Siaya County Assembly has become the first to kick-start the process of considering the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) draft Bill, just two days after the electoral commission submitted it to the 47 counties.
In an advert in the daily newspapers, the assembly has invited residents to either submit memoranda containing their views on the Bill or attend public participation forums in all the six sub-counties of Siaya.
The committee on Justice and Legal Affairs says in the advert that town hall public participation meetings will be conducted on Tuesday, February 2, while those who have memoranda must submit them to the office of the clerk before that day.
“Article 196 (1) (b) of the constitution, read together with section 87 of the County Governments Act and Standing Order 129 (3), provides for public participation and involvement in the legislative and other business of the assembly and its committees,” the advert, signed by the assembly’s clerk, says.
Public participation meetings
The meetings in Alego Usonga, Rarieda and Ugenya sub-counties will be conducted between 9am and 12 noon while those in Gem, Bondo and Ugunja will be conducted between 2pm and 5pm.
However, the question as to whether a constitutional amendment Bill through the popular initiative should be subjected to public participation at the county assembly is open to debate as either the assemblies or Parliament cannot amend the Bill.
The matter is the subject of litigation at the Supreme Court.
The county assemblies of Kericho and Nandi have sought guidance of the apex court on the procedure to be followed while processing a constitutional amendment Bill, under a popular initiative, ahead of the referendum.
The assemblies have asked the Supreme Court to clarify a number of issues, saying the Constitution or the Elections Act does not provide clarity on critical aspects to guide a referendum.
They said it is not clear how a Bill containing multiple and unrelated issues will be voted for at the referendum and whether it should be voted on in an omnibus way or on the basis of multiple questions delineated in respect of each provision or subject matter sought to be amended.
The two county assemblies say that while Article 256 of the Constitution, which guides constitutional amendment through a Parliamentary initiative, is detailed on procedure and process of processing a constitutional amendment, Article 257, which relates to popular initiative, seems silent on the process and the procedure Parliament has to use in consideration and passage of a Bill to amend the Constitution through a popular initiative.
They add that there is no explicit guidance in both the Senate and National Assembly Standing Orders to that regard.
The counties have 90 days from Tuesday this week to debate and approve the BBI Bill.