, NAIVASHA, Kenya, Sept 18 – The Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review has started compiling a draft incorporating views they received from written memoranda by Kenyans and various interest groups.
The team met in Naivasha between Wednesday and Friday to consolidate the views from over 12,000 memoranda and submissions from political parties, civil societies and religious groups on the various contentious issues. On Friday, the committee said that a final draft for consideration would be ready in a few weeks time.
Chairman Nzamba Kitonga said that his team had perused the proposals and discussed them in the light of previous draft laws and was ready to compile the draft with only five months remaining to their deadline.
“This is the first step towards developing a harmonised draft constitutional document for discussion,” Mr Kitonga told journalists.
The draft, he said “would be available soonest” for discussion by legislators, interest groups and all Kenyans before being put for a referendum.
“While the contemplated consultations continue, the Committee wishes to point out that they cannot sit indefinitely if the new constitution is to be delivered in time,” the chairman said.
The Committee is seeking to consolidate the Bomas and Wako drafts with the various views. It had identified three contentious issues including the system of government, level of devolution and transitional arrangements, before a new document is taken to a referendum.
Mr Kitonga said the team remained united despite a decision by Commissioner Njoki Ndung’u to boycott the Naivasha meeting claiming that there was no consensus in making key decisions. Ms Ndung’u had alleged divisions with reports that the committee had already finalised a draft but was keeping it secret.
“It is just that letter we received from Hon. Njoki Ndungu but there are no divisions amongst us,” he said in the team’s defence.
Mr Kitonga however dismissed the said draft saying the team had just embarked on a document after spending much of their time collecting views.
“We don’t think this matter has reached those levels (divisions). We hope to talk to our colleague (Ms Ndung’u) and resolve this matter amicably,” he said.
Mr Kitonga said his team was determined to deliver the new law acceptable to most Kenyans.
“While the committee appreciates comments and engagements it is not lost on the committee that there are individuals and groups who are not keen on a new constitution and who therefore place all possible obstacles,” he said.
The draft law will first be discussed by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution and Parliament and the interest groups before being presented to members of public for voting in a referendum.
The country has been in search of a new law for the last 19 years with the nearest attempt being in 2005 when Kenyans rejected the so called ‘Wako draft’ in a referendum.