Anglican Church takes stand on draft law

November 27, 2009 12:00 am

, LIMURU, Kenya, Nov 27 – The Anglican Church of Kenya has faulted the inclusion of the Kadhi’s Courts in the draft Constitution saying it should be scrapped and its creation left under an Act of Parliament.

ACK Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said on Friday that the draft was also silent on abortion when it failed to define that life begins from conception to natural death.

Archbishop Wabukala and about 20 other Anglican clergymen told a news conference that they had written a memorandum to be presented to the Committee of Experts (CoE), which would address 20 contentious issues in the draft.

“We do not want the Constitution to be contradicted by elevating one religion above others. It should instead maintain equality. Besides, the provision of the Kadhis courts is catered for by a certain section of the current constitution which allows Parliament to enact laws that provide provisions for its creation. Therefore it can be taken care of under legislation,” he stated.

The Archbishop also indicated that the ACK wanted the Constitution to limit the maximum number of constituencies to avoid sporadic changes of boundaries among other issues. 

“We also want the draft Constitution to clarify the hierarchy of Parliament with the proposal that the Senate becomes the Upper House. We also require that members of the Senate be elected directly by the people; that it defines who marginalised groups are and when such marginalisation is deemed to have ended and show clearly who between the President and the Prime Minister is in charge of the country,” the Archbishop recommended.

The church also called for an extension of the 30-day period set to analyse the harmonised draft Constitution noting that a majority of Kenyans were yet to get copies of the draft.

“It is the duty of the CoE to ensure that all Kenyans get access to the harmonised draft Constitution with adequate time provided for reading, evaluating and preparing memoranda. Considering that two weeks have already gone by and many Kenyans have still not accessed the document, justice requires that the period for submission of recommendations be extended at least by another 30 days,” he explained.

The Archbishop also cautioned Kenyans against allowing politicians to tarnish the draft and instead urged them to read it and understand it.

“The entire constitutional review process (which began in 1997 up to 2005) failed to give us a new Constitution because it was extensively politicised and polarised. The impact of its politicisation was felt in 2007 and 2008,” he noted.

He further said that Kenyans should remain committed to constructive dialogue on the draft Constitution, which would help clarify issues.

“We should have mature discussions of the draft so that we can chart the way forward for the country. Let us remember that this is a historic moment for our country and that we can make a Constitution for the future of this nation,” he said.

He further said that there was need for the CoE to address all the contentious issues raised by Kenyans before accepting the new Constitution saying it would prevent costly mistakes.

“At this stage the CoE has done its initial work. We now urge them to commit themselves to listening to what Kenyans have to say about the Constitution,” he said.

The Archbishop concluded by saying the ACK would remain committed to the process of ensuring Kenya gets a new Constitution.

“This draft is good but it can be better and we pray to God for blessings and guidance in our endeavor to get a new constitution,” he stated.

Kenyans have 19 more days to read and forward their recommendations and views to the CoE.

Other recommendations that the church put forward are:

a)    That the CoE adds a list of national values separate from the principles and goals.
b)    Clearly state that children have a right to be born.
c)    Clearly state the right of persons to propagate religion.
d)    Clearly state the right of a person to convert to another religion.
e)    Clearly define who marginalized groups are and when such marginalization will end.
f)    Show clearly who between the President and the Prime Minister is in charge of the country.
g)    Put the police and other security agencies under Commander in Chief.
h)    Withdraw the section creating the constitutional Court.
i)    Withdraw the section requiring Judges and magistrates to be vetted unless similar treatment is extended to the members of the other two arms of government (Executive and Legislature).
j)    Require that the county governors be elected directly by the people.
k)    Fix the boundaries of the counties.
l)    Clearly spell out the role of the regional government.
m)     Judicial powers should be devolved.
n)     Police and security services should not be devolved.


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