Jump to navigation


First round of reform plan won by President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga

Strong majority at national and county level for constitutional amendment and more devolution

The Building Bridges Initiative has taken a big step towards becoming reality after the Constitutional Amendment bill that will put it into law was passed by 41 of Kenya's 47 devolved county assemblies, comfortably exceeding the 24 needed for it to pass on to the National Assembly (AC Vol 62 No 1, Keeping up with the Kenyattas). With the combined support of most of the Jubilee party of President Uhuru Kenyatta and almost all of the official opposition parties, led by Raila Odinga's Orange Democrat Movement, it is certain to be adopted.

That makes a referendum inevitable and it has been tentatively scheduled for June, though that could easily slip due to legal challenges currently before the High Court. Less clear is what the question or questions on the ballot paper will look like, with Odinga keen to avoid a simple 'yes/no' question to increase the chances of the BBI proposals surviving. 

In the meantime, Odinga and Kenyatta will be delighted at their co-ordination efforts, co-opting the likes of Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper party chief Kalonzo Musyoka to make the BBI's passage a fait accompli.

The ease and speed at which the counties endorsed BBI is a major setback for William Ruto, Deputy President and leading sceptic of the reform plan. 

Baringo, a stronghold of the Deputy President, is the only county to have rejected the BBI constitutional amendments. However, none of the other central and Rift Valley provinces followed suit (AC Vol 61 No 19, Handshake to face poll test). 

Once West Pokot and Nairobi county assemblies backed the bill, Kikuyu and other Ruto allies in the Mount Kenya region saw the writing on the wall and quietly acquiesced. Ruto's initial strong opposition to the BBI plan evolved into ambivalence. Now, he may have little choice but to accept that it will pass.

Related Articles

Keeping up with the Kenyattas

As they take the field, the battle between the President and his deputy is testing the limits of ethnic politics

'You should go and insult your mother, not mine' said President Uhuru Kenyatta on 10 September to a small crowd just outside Nairobi. He was referring to two Kalenjin politicians &...

Handshake to face poll test

The President’s coalition with his former adversary will be put to the electorate in 2021 against a backdrop of economic pain

After a catastrophic decline in economic performance due to Covid-19 in 2020, aggravated by corruption and wrong-headed fiscal and public debt policies, 2021 promises to be particu...

Wait while we connect you

The privatisation of East Africa’s biggest cellphone company unveils a political and corporate scandal

The government desperately wants to sell a 25% stake of Safaricom, its joint venture with Britain's Vodafone on the Nairobi Stock Exchange, before this year's elections. President ...

Three's a crowd

The marriage of convenience between Uhuru and Raila will start to unravel as money grows tight and a rival consort asserts himself

Kenya's political landscape in 2019 will be dominated by two-way competition between Deputy President William Ruto of the ruling Jubilee Party and former Prime Minister Raila Oding...


No open-and-shut case

The Court ruling on the election gave politicians and the IEBC no road map on how to get out of the resulting mess

When Kenya's Supreme Court voided the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta, by four to two, it became the first-ever African court to unseat a sitting president, and only the third...