CHANGING THE CONSTITUTION

Orengo: Prepare for BBI referendum in June or July

County Assemblies overwhelmingly passed the Bill

In Summary

•There were concerns that referendum would delays owing to the budgetary constraints and several court injunctions.

•But Orengo, a senior counsel and BBI strategist, downplayed the court petitions saying they may not stop the process.

ODM leader Raila Odinga and Siaya Senator James Orengo.
ODM leader Raila Odinga and Siaya Senator James Orengo.
Image: FILE

Proponents of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) are bullish that the country will hold a referendum in June or July, despite court injunctions and budgetary constraints.

Senate Minority leader James Orengo, a close ally of ODM leader Raila Odinga whose handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta birthed BBI, said all is set for a plebiscite after county assemblies overwhelmingly approved the BBI bill.

“I see us going to the referendum in less than 90 days. It will take us to the month of June or July. We may have to go to July for purposes of budgetary process because it requires money,” he said.

Parliament is set to start debating the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 after more than 24 County Assemblies passed the proposed changes to push it to the next stage  - Parliament – enroute to referendum.

Orengo revealed that plans are afoot to hold the referendum in June but the process may cascade to July to allow the Treasury allocate funds for the exercise in the 2021-2022 budget.

This is in case the Treasury does not prepare a supplementary budget and present to the same to the National Assembly for approval before the end of the current financial year.

“But if the Treasury will be able to put some resources together, that can be done in many ways – supplementary appropriation bill brought to the national assembly to secure funds,” Orengo told the Star.

According to the  IEBC, at least Sh10 billion will be required to conduct the referendum that will come barely one year before the August, 2022 General Elections.

The Siaya senator disclosed that the two houses of parliament will start debating the bill next week after the speakers communicated the receiving the Bill from a majority of the assemblies.

“Whether parliament passes it or not, it doesn’t really matter. It will still go to the referendum. Parliament is just for purposes of giving it a stamping authority or if it rejects, it is just to show parliament’s position,” he said.

There were concerns that referendum would delays owing to the budgetary constraints and several court injunctions.

Early last month, the High Court issued a temporary conservatory order restraining the IEBC from subjecting the Bill to a referendum until the cases filed against the process are heard and determined.

But Orengo, a senior counsel and BBI strategist, downplayed the court petitions saying they may not stop the process.

“I don’t see a substance in any of those cases that affect the course the referendum has taken,” he said.

Orengo cited Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana who has sought Supreme Court advisory on the exercise but has since changed tune and supported the drive.

 “I want to assume that that matter is now settled..…they may challenge the process in the counties but I think we have been smart about how we are going about this. We have be able to attain as many as 40 or more counties.

“So, if they able to find that any of the counties did not adhere to the process, we still have a cushion,” he added.