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Appeal court hearing will decide the fate of the Building Bridges Initiative and perhaps next year's elections
Judges sat for five consecutive days at the Appeal Court to review the 14 May High Court ruling that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), at the centre of the alliance between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, would breach the constitution (AC Vol 62 No 11, Picking up the pieces).
The BBI is the product of the four years of negotiations. It doubles as a constitutional overhaul that expands government and a political deal to carve up power between President Kenyatta and 'handshake' partner Raila Odinga (AC Vol 59 No 6, Raila beats rivals to a new deal).
The stakes are high. The lawyers for President Kenyatta and Odinga are seeking to persuade the Court that there is nothing to prohibit the President from driving the BBI process. The judgement that BBI is an act of presidential fiat underpinned the May ruling that it was unconstitutional.
They also contend that Suna East MP Junet Mohammed and former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru are the promoters of the BBI.
The BBI principals have had to move quickly following the 14 May ruling. Should they obtain even a partial overturning of the ruling, that would allow them to use their parliamentary majority to pass revised BBI legislation.
They could then set the timetable for a referendum that needs to be held by early 2022 ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections next August.
The second side to the May ruling focuses on the plans to create 70 new parliamentary constituencies, which the Court struck down on the grounds that this can only be made on the basis of a recommendation by the Independent Electoral Board Commission.
This will be tougher to reverse. The new constituencies, which were concentrated in the Mount Kenya region, were intended to bolster Kenyatta's Kikuyu constituency in the National Assembly, potentially to balance an Odinga presidency.
Should the May ruling be upheld on all counts that would spell the end of the BBI. In so doing it would hand a clear victory to Kenyatta's estranged Deputy William Ruto and his campaign for the presidency next year.
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