Kenya’s Supreme Court on Thursday threw out plans proposed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, to amend the Constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
In a majority decision of five against two, the top court judges agreed that the BBI Bill, which sought to amend the supreme law through a popular initiative was unconstitutional.
The judges led by Chief Justice Martha Koome agreed that President Kenyatta overstepped his mandate when he initiated changes to the Constitution through the popular initiative route.
The seven-judge bench in a majority decision, however, agreed that the basic structure doctrine is not applicable in the Kenyan constitution.
The judges agreed that the President’s legal proceedings cannot be brought against him or any person performing the functions of his office, during his tenure.
On May 23, 2021, a special five-judge bench sitting at the High Court of Kenya at Nairobi unanimously declared that the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was unconstitutional. The High Court’s judgment, many observers contended was one of the most significant ruling by Kenyan courts since President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election win was nullified four years ago.
Kenyatta’s estranged deputy and presidential candidate William Ruto decried the constitutional changes as capable of auguring an all-powerful presidency, while Kenyatta argued that the proposal would encourage devolution of power and power sharing among competing ethnic groups.
The government appealed the ruling of the High Court before a seven-judge bench of the Court of Appeal on August 20, 2021.
The constitution amendment process, which would have otherwise ended in a plebiscite, was being promoted through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
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