Ball in your court, experts tell MPs

March 25, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – The Committee of Experts on Constitution review has pegged the realisation of the new law on the ability by Parliament to reach consensus on the best mode of government for the country.

Chairman Nzamba Kitonga on Wednesday challenged legislators to set aside divisive politics and agree to make sacrifices.  The experts have given legislators the choices of a purely parliamentary system, a presidential system with reduced powers or a hybrid of both. 

“While there is widespread acceptance of a devolved government, there is need to be an agreement on the vertical and horizontal reach of such a government. How deep down and how far it should go,” Mr Kitonga said in a memorandum presented to the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs.

“You will be called upon to alter and yield the position of your party and personal beliefs. You must listen to the cry of Kenyans for a new constitutional order and a stable nation,” the experts told MPs.

The team also wants Parliament to consider urgent reforms in the Judiciary and the electoral system.

The Chairman said his team would provide a draft ‘within the shortest time possible’ but cautioned that the onus would be on the National Assembly to put aside divisive politics and remain objective in the process.

“We appeal to them as much as possible that as we pledge to give the country a draft Constitution, the greatest burden is upon parliamentarians to ensure they proceed in a cohesive and coherent manner so that they bind the country together without major divisions,” he said.

“But of course it is also up to the Kenyan public to ensure that they emphasis to the leaders that they need a new Constitution.”

The committee which was sworn in early this month and given a one year timeline has begun evaluating the various past drafts of the Constitution. It will be expected to harmonise both the Wako and Bomas draft. The committee’s draft will be presented before parliament for approval before it is vetted by various interest groups yet to be identified by Parliament.

Mr Kitonga said the committee has made proposals for minimal amendments to the Constitution Amendment Act which is expected in the Statutory Miscellaneous Bill 2009.

“We have proposed an amendment to Section 28 to make the commencement date commensurate to the appointment of members, an amendment to operationalise and specify the interest groups under Section 30, and an amendment to Section 44 to 51 to co-opt the constitutional arbitration court that will address all disputes,” he said.


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