Foreign agencies told to stop funding illegal BBI process

ODM leader Raila Odinga and former US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter at his Capitol Hill office in 2019

It is emerging that the Building Bridges Initiative that was declared by the High Court as unconstitutional, null and void was funded by foreign powers.

This is after Kenya Diaspora Alliance USA demanded answers from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) over reports it funded the illegal process as determined by a five-judge bench on May 13.

“KDA-USA intends to write to USAID Administrator Samantha Power to seek an end to the use of our taxes to support the illegal BBI, which the court has declared null and void,” lobby said on Saturday.

“As Kenyan-Americans, we demand that USAID divests from using our tax money to fund the BBI process declared illegal and unconstitutional. As Americans, we ask you to respect the Constitution and the Judiciary of Kenya as we are taught to respect those of the USA,” they added.

Senior lecturer at Daystar University Dr Wandia Njoya in a tweet said the initiative is funded by the US, sharing a document by the USAID pointing to that.

“An unconstitutional constitutional change is funded by a gift to Kenya from the American people,” Dr Njoya said.

In the document, USAID says in its Safeguarding Democratic Space in Kenya (SADES-K) activity, it partners with government institutions, civil society organizations, and the media to strengthen the country’s governance reform agenda and secure democratic gains enshrined in the 2010 Constitution.

“SADES-K has three main objectives: strengthen social and ethnic cohesion; protect civic and democratic space; and conduct regular monitoring of the Building Bridges to Unity Initiative’s national dialogue implementation process and outcomes,” the document updated on March 9, 2021 says.

In addition, USAID says the activity facilitates data collection and tracking of citizen’s views through public polling, and the findings inform decisions on subsequent activities undertaken by the BBI.

“[It] also assists citizens and civil society in defining their engagement with government-led, cohesion, and reform initiatives,” the paper says.

Former US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter is on record backing the constitution change process, saying  the United States expects an honest conversation among Kenyans and a process that’s not hijacked by a section of politicians.

Speaking in Bungoma, McCarter said there is a need for an honest discussion on the BBI report, if leaders want to transform the nation for the better.

But the diaspora lobby said the problem is not the 2010 Constitution but those in power, who have “caused this misery and now want to change the Katiba to perpetuate their reign and avert justice”.

KDA-USA said the international community and agencies such as the UN in Kenya, UNDP, UK’s Department for International Development, USAID and EU institutions should immediately stop providing financial and political support to the illegal and unconstitutional BBI.

Lawyer Korir Sing’Oei, who is also a legal adviser to Deputy President William Ruto, said it is important to assess the role of the international community in propping up “the illegal and illegitimate BBI process”.

“In the spirit of open governance, DFID and USAID need to disclose how much they financed the process and for what purpose,” Sing’Oei said.

ODM leader Raila Odinga and UK High Commissioner Jane Marriott at his Capitol Hill office in Nairobi PHOTO/ODM TEAM

Vocal human rights activist and 2010 Constitution defender Ndung’u Wainaina claimed the US and UK High Commission were involved in the funding.

Wainaina said, “How much money did the US Embassy in Kenya and UK High Commission in Kenya spend in supporting unconstitutional BBI fraud? They must disclose”

“They claim high moral ground on rule of law and democracy but keep propping up dictatorship with warped foreign policy,” he said.

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