, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 24 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Friday expressed optimism that the country would get a new Constitution within the set timeframe.
He said the committee of experts to review the Bomas Draft was perusing only the four contentious chapters in the document with the aim of harmonising divergent views across the political divide.
“There is no cause for alarm at the moment although the reform process has dragged for far too long dating back to the days of the late Tom Mboya who sparked the struggle for constitutional change in the 60s,” Mr Odinga said.
The Premier said the experts were weighing available options that could unlock the constitutional crisis and were expected to release workable recommendations that could bridge the polarity witnessed during the last referendum.
“The experts are working on only four out of the 22 chapters in the Bomas draft which were found contentious, but it is quite obvious that the road to a new constitutional order is long overdue,” he said.
Mr Odinga told senior officials from the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Process (IDEA) during a courtesy call in his office that some clauses touching on religion, devolution and system of governance were being ironed out.
IDEA senior programme Officer Bjarta Tora told the leadership in the country to soberly approach the review to ensure that their efforts materialised after a series of failed starts that marred the constitutional review process.
The President of the National Endowment for Democracy Carl Gershman however stressed the need for the coalition to put its house in order and collectively concert their energies on the constitutional review exercise.
He cautioned the country’s leaders to tread carefully on the matter and ensure that the document was delivered within the lifespan of the current coalition since the international community was keenly following the progress.
“Kenyans must resolve the constitutional deadlock once and for all especially now that the world is watching the country very keenly following the election a US President with paternal kinship ties with natives,” Mr Gersham warned.
He urged rival leaders to bury their political differences and unite to prioritise the reform agenda adding intense lobbying was underway to attract the attention and support of the US to the country after the election of President Barack Obama.
Mr Gersham said the country could not afford to suffocate her citizenry with bad laws with reference to the harassment the senior Obama’s father went through for voicing opinion that the state felt was in bad taste.
He informed the Premier that his organisation was undertaking a survey on the key areas the country needed support before presenting the Kenyan case to the donor community for possible funding.
Mr Odinga was quick to point out the trade imbalance between the US and Kenya as an entry point, and urged the Americans to promote local imports to bridge the economic gaps for the mutual benefit of both countries.