Kenya lawyers fault reform progress

May 23, 2009 12:00 am

, LIMURU, Kenya, May 23 – Concerns have arisen on the disjointed way in which the government is spearheading the reform agenda.

Lawyers PLO Lumumba and Paul Muite said on Saturday that the current process was in disarray, noting that the various committees were working without a clear framework of integration and coordination. The two said that while the reform agenda ought to be interconnected the whole process is currently unharmonious.

“The committee of experts is on its own, the Boundaries Commission on the other end while the Electoral Commission is on the other side,” Mr Muite regretted.

Dr Lumumba said the work of the Committee of Experts on Constitution, the Interim Independent Boundaries Commission and that of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission needed to be harmonised for a successful process.

“But with the current crop of leaders who are part of the problem it is unlikely that we will get real reforms,” he observed.

Mr Muite said that the country needed to first agree on the contentious issues before the three committees can go on with their work.

“How can you tell the Boundaries commission to review the boundaries while the President continues to create new districts? You can’t expect the Committee of Experts to write a new law while there have not been wide consultations on the system of governance for instance,” he said.

He called on both the Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement to consult and establish consensus instead of issuing conflicting opinions on the same issues.

The former legislator however opposed proposals for a hybrid system of governance. Mr Muite said the system is a recipe for chaos and confusion and does not lead to any operational efficiency. He maintained that the country should either chose a pure Parliamentary or pure Presidential system.

“When you come up with a hybrid you will be sure to have one President, two or three vice Presidents, a Prime Minister and several deputies adding a financial burden on the taxpayer. With this the issue of efficiency is thrown out,” he said.

He however stated that were Kenyans to choose a presidential system there would be need to entrench the 50-percent-plus-one-vote rule and a run-off to ensure that the President reflects the wishes of a majority.

Mr Muite in the meantime proposed that parliament should spearhead packaged minimum reforms targeted at the Judiciary, the Police and a permanent Electoral Commission as we await consensus in the contentious issues.

“Instead of creating the Interim Committees we should put up a permanent, lean electoral commission and execute the obvious reforms in the Police force as we look at the other issues such as land and the Kadhi courts,” he said.


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