Kenya’s appeals court on Friday rejected President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government’s proposal to make fundamental changes to the constitution, reported Africa News.
On Friday, the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court order that declared the proposed reforms illegal on the basis that Kenyatta acted unconstitutionally.
The reform, also known as the Building Bridge Initiative (BBI), aims to amend Kenya’s 2010 constitution. The proposed amendments would have created 70 new constituencies and establish several powerful new posts including that of a prime minister, two deputies, and an official leader of the parliamentary opposition.
The BBI has been a source of growing controversy ever since it was launched on November 27, 2019.
Kenya’s Parliament had approved the bill on May 11, which was then to be put to a referendum. But two days later, a Nairobi court ruled that the process was illegal, stating that such a constitutional review could not be initiated by the president.
The judge said a constitutional amendment can only be initiated by parliament or through a popular initiative. He said that Kenyatta could even be sued in a civil court for launching the process.
“The president does not have authority under the constitution to initiate changes to the constitution,” the court’s presiding Judge Daniel Musinga said in a judgment after more than 10 hours of a televised session.
Kenyatta had argued that the constitutional overhaul would make politics more inclusive and help end repeated cycles of election violence in the East African nation. He said it would promote power-sharing among competing ethnic groups and was not intended to deny anyone the presidency.
He claimed the constitutional amendment was meant to mitigate the current “winner take all” system. But critics see the reform as a plan by the head of state, who is not allowed to run for a third term in the August 2022 election, to stay in power as prime minister.