Kenya: Cheers, Flak as Split Over BBI Widens

Thursday's High Court verdict on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) petitions continued to elicit mixed reactions from political players Saturday.

Supporters and promoters of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in Mt Kenya and western regions Saturday faulted the ruling, saying the court usurped the role of the people as sovereign power belongs to Kenyans.

Led by ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, the Cabinet secretaries, governors, MCAs and Members of Parliament insisted that BBI was the answer to Kenya's history of violent and ethnic-based politics.

The politicians said President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga were driven by patriotism and wanted to leave Kenya a better place. Mr Mudavadi asked Parliament to consider taking up the initiative if it takes too long in court.

"Power belongs to the people and the decision on whether to pass or reject BBI should be made by the people," added Murangá Woman Rep Sabina Chege .

They were speaking in Nyeri at a function to celebrate the initiation into adulthood of the son of Kieni MP Kanini Kega.

Kang'ata vindicated

Separately, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana said Deputy President William Ruto is on the right side of history as Murang'a Senator Irungu Kang'ata declared the initiative "legally dead".

Similarly, Igembe South MP John Paul Mwirigi called for an audit of the BBI expenditure, adding that President Uhuru Kenyatta should be surcharged for it.

Prof Kibwana made his remarks via Twitter: "One may like or not like the Deputy President William Ruto ... But on this BBI matter, history will judge him kindly."

Dr Kang'ata, on the other hand, held a press conference at his office in Upper Hill, Nairobi where he said the High Court verdict vindicated him on the position he held in the controversial letter he wrote to President Uhuru Kenyatta in January.

"I was victimised for that but now the courts have vindicated me," he said.

Asked whether there was a chance to revive the referendum before the next General Election, he responded that even if the State appeals the High Court ruling, it will be impossible to have a referendum in under four months unless they short-circuit and circumvent the law.

Maa leaders untied

And at the burial of former Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Alex ole Magelo Saturday in Kajiado County, Maa leaders were united in condemning the five-judge bench that declared the BBI process unconstitutional.

Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, the BBI's South Rift coordinator, slammed the five-judge bench for their "dishonesty".

"This was an injustice meted on a people-initiated process. We will go to court and we are optimistic BBI reggae will return with a bang," said Mr Lenku.

Narok North MP Kenta Moitatel said time is ripe for all judges to be subjected to public voting to stop the culture of the Judiciary undermining the Executive.

Mr Kenta said the judges disrespected the President during their ruling, noting the Judiciary is polarising the country through the skewed ruling .

"It is only in Kenya that a judge can refer to the Head of State as 'Mr', showing how low we have sunk as a country," said Mr Kenta.

Kajiado North MP Joseph Manje said the court erred by ignoring the "voice" of Kenyans.

More on this: BBI promoters accuse judges of activism, vow to appeal court ruling

41 judges

President Uhuru Kenyatta was represented at the burial by his sister elder Christina Pratt.

Pokot South MP David Pkosing said the judgement was motivated by the refusal by the President to appoint 41 judges to both the high court and the court of Appeal after they were nominated by the Judicial Service Commission.

"A judge cannot rule on a matter like chapter six that was not sought by the petitioners. It is impossible to accept the High court ruling as objective rule of law," he said.

Reporting by Anita Chepkoech, David Muchui, Stanley Ngotho, James Murimi, Pius Maundu and George Munene

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