The vote went on late into the night, a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga rallied lawmakers to pass the Bill to implement reforms under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Some of the MPs in the DP’s camp who have been vocal against the BBI broke ranks to vote for the Bill, which proposes to expand the executive, create an extra 70 constituencies and devolve at least 30 percent of national revenues to the counties.
The Senate deferred its vote to next week. Once Parliament is done with the Bill, it will be submitted to the President who will then transmit it to the electoral commission that is required to hold a referendum within 90 days.
Yesterday, MPs David Sankok (nominated) Kareke Mbiuki (Maara), Joash Nyamoko (North Mugirango),William Chepkut (Ainabkoi), Purity Kathambi (Njoro), David Gikaria (Nakuru East), Malulu Injendi, who recently warmed up to the Tanga Tanga camp, Gideon Koske (Chepalungu) and Ngunjiri Kimani (Bahati), a vocal critic of President Kenyatta, voted for the Bill.
Notable Ruto allies who voted against the Bill were Caleb Kositany (Soy) Aden Duale (Garissa Town), Joyce Emanikor (Turkana), Rigathi Gachagua, Faith Gitau (Nyandarua), Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu), Rehema Jadelsa (Isiolo) and Aisha Jumwa (Malindi).
Others who also voted against the Bill were Johana Ng’eno (Emurua Dikir), William Cheptumo (Baringo North), Nelson Koech (Belgut), Gideon Keter (nominated), Nixon Korir (Lang’ata), Hillary Kosgei (Kipkellion West), Dominic Koskei (Sotik), John Waluke (Sirisia), Lizah Chelule (Nakuru woman rep), Joseph Limo (Kipkelion East), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), James Lomenen (Turkana South), Cecile Mbarire (nominated), Mohamed Ali (Nyali), Silvanus Osoro (South Mugirango), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Purity Ngirici (Kirinyaga) and Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu).
Voted for the Bill
Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi abstained from the vote. Among those who voted for the Bill were House leaders Amos Kimunya (Majority Leader), John Mbadi (Minority Leader), Junet Mohammed (Minority Whip), Gathoni Wamuchomba (KIambu woman rep), Cate Waruguru (Laikipia woman rep), Otiende Amollo (Rarienda) and Muturi Kigano (Kangema).
Kigano and Amollo were chairman and vice chairman of the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that authored a critical report that branded sections of the Bill unconstitutional. Mr Amollo has since been removed from the committee by ODM.
Some 302 MPs in the 349-strong National Assembly participated in the vote, which was taken to conclude debate on the Bill in the second reading and thereafter in the final legislative stage. In the first vote, 235 backed the Bill, while 83 opposed it and two abstained.
Earlier, debate on the Bill was characterised by factional politics pitting Tanga Tanga against Kieleweke camps in Jubilee Party, which are allied to President Kenyatta and Dr Ruto respectively. Dr Ruto’s allies poked holes in the Bill, saying, the ultimate beneficiaries are not the people as portrayed by its promoters but just a few politicians.
Having failed in their attempt to make changes to the document after Speaker Justin Muturi overruled amendments to the Bill, the DP’s allies chose the path of giving the Bill a bad name by labelling it a poisoned chalice with no solution to Kenyan problems.
Mr Kositany, who was recently ousted as Jubilee Deputy Secretary General, said the Bill is unpopular among ordinary Kenyans but it is being forced down their throats.
Malice and deception
“Right now, other nations are talking about how to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines, how to vaccinate their populations but we are the only country who are talking about constitutional amendments,” Mr Kositany said.
Mr Ichungwa said the Bill was motivated by malice and loaded with deception. Mr Duale, who was toppled as Majority Leader, also opposed the Bill, saying, the creation of the Judiciary Ombudsman interferes with the independence of the Judiciary.
“The creation of the Ombudsman is creating fear and intimidating the judges. With this ombudsman, the revisiting that my party said has started,” Mr Duale said, referring to a threat by President Kenyatta to protest the nullification of his re-election in 2017 by the then Chief Justice David Maraga-led Supreme Court.
Ousted chairman of Justice and Legal Affairs committee William Cheptumo (Baringo North) also opposed the Bill saying the problems facing the country are largely caused by the leaders who do not believe in the rule of law and have nothing to do with the constitution.
However, Deputy Minority Whip Maoka Maore told off the Bill’s opposers, saying, they were only bitter with the Handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
“Handshake came to save this country from itself. The unfortunate part is that part of those in government did not recognise the Handshake because they saw it as being denied power,” Mr Maore said, referring to the March 2018 truce between the President and Mr Odinga that birthed the BBI.
Homa Bay woman rep Gladys Wanga said the country has been with the constitution for a decade and it was now time to deal with areas that need amendments.