A Court Ruling Just Upended Kenya’s Political Landscape

A Court Ruling Just Upended Kenya’s Political Landscape
Mercy Wambua, center, the CEO of the Law Society of Kenya and other lawyers march to protest the Kenyan government’s deportation of an opposition politician, Feb. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

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Last Friday, Kenya’s Court of Appeal upheld a May judgment by the High Court blocking a government bid to make fundamental changes to the country’s constitution. The ruling marks a setback to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy-building project and is certain to shift the political landscape a year before the country’s general election.

The appeals court upheld the high court’s verdict that the Building Bridges Initiative, or BBI—which aimed to amend the 2010 constitution by, among other things, creating the offices of prime minister, two deputy prime ministers and a leader of the opposition as well as increase the number of seats in parliament—could only be initiated by parliament or a popular initiative. “The president does not have authority under the Constitution to initiate changes to the Constitution,” Court of Appeal President Daniel Musinga said in a judgment issued at the end of a televised session that lasted more than 10 hours.

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