Three issues hold down Kenya constitution

June 18, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 18 – The Committee of Experts on Constitution Review has identified three contentious issues which will form the focus of drafting a new supreme law of Kenya.

Committee Chairman Nzamba Kitonga said on Thursday that submissions from the public had pointed to the system of government, level of devolution and transitional arrangements as the main issues that Kenyans would like addressed before a new document is taken to a referendum.

“We received 12,080 submissions from Kenyans. We analysed their feedback and we were able to discern the three issues as contentious,” he said.

Mr Kitonga said Kenyans remained divided on the appropriate system of government between a Presidential, Parliamentary or hybrid one. The two main coalition partners (Party of National Unity and Orange Democratic Movement) have also differed on the mode of governance.

He said that they had established that Kenyans were in favour of a devolved government.

“The issue in contention here is up to what level, do we have two levels of devolved government, perhaps district or regional, or do we want one level? What will be the relationship of the devolved government and the central government?” he posed.

Mr Kitonga also said Kenyans were divided on whether senior government officers in the current regime should be retained once the new constitution is enacted.

The experts however said they hoped the public would reach consensus on the contentious issues in time for the making of a new draft.

“It is possible since we are committed to continue engaging Kenyans to agree on the best way of resolving these issues,” he said.

Mr Kitonga also assured that his committee will not give in to political pressure which has been blamed for the delay to the realisation of a new constitution.

“We will not be obsessed with the singular views of the political parties, the level of acrimony witnessed in the past will come down. This is a process for all Kenyans,” he said.

Attorney General Amos Wako who also serves in the committee as an ex-officio member said the country was likely to hold a referendum early next year.

He said the government will provide funds and put other relevant measures in place to ensure it takes place immediately after the completion of the process.

“Parliament should be able to approve the new constitution in December. If that programme works according to schedule we ought to have a referendum between February and early April,” he said.

The two spoke during a meeting of the Committee and senior media editors.

The experts used the occasion to urge the media to support the review process and help build consensus on controversial issues through civic education.

Members of the public have also been invited to give their views and support the team to ensure a new constitution is in place within the set timeframe.

The committee took office in March, with a one-year mandate within which to deliver a new constitution.


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