Kenya’s Supreme Court Blocks President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Push for Constitution Change

Kenya’s Supreme Court on March 31 blocked an initiative by President Uhuru Kenyatta to make fundamental changes to the constitution.

The judges in Nairobi ruled that the reforms called Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) were unconstitutional on the grounds that Kenyan law did not allow a sitting head of state to initiate and promote constitutional amendments.

The top court said that citizens should have led the initiative.

The ruling was a major blow to Kenyatta’s plan to shape the East African nation’s political future, and it comes ahead of the elections in August that will decide his successor.

BBI would have introduced a new post of prime minister. There had been speculation that Kenyatta could seek this position if his rival-turned-ally Raila Odinga, a former prime minister, becomes the next president.

BBI would have also added new positions for two deputies and a leader of the official opposition. It would also have created an additional 70 seats in parliament, which critics had viewed as an attempt to reward loyal politicians.

The Supreme Court, however, allowed the government to appeal five other issues that were under consideration.

The final judgment will be read next week.

The Supreme Court also overturned an earlier judgment by the lower courts that Kenyatta could be prosecuted as an individual, ruling that he has legal immunity as president.

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