30 days not enough, says Kenyan MP

November 20, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 20 – Lawyer Paul Muite on Friday asked for an extension of the 30 days allocated for scrutiny of the harmonised draft Constitution that was launched this week.

He told Capital News that the period was too short for Kenyans to understand what is contained in the draft to enable them make a sound decision on the provisions they want.

"This time is not enough for Kenyans read, write to the Parliamentary Committee on Constitution and write to Committee of Experts (CoE)," he said.

The Kiswahili version of the draft was yet to be published by Friday, four days after the English version was released. The CoE said it had released the Braille version on Thursday.

Mr Muite warned against rushing the process for the sake of giving Kenyans a Constitution which has nonetheless been long overdue,

"Kenyans want a new Constitution but not any Constitution at any price."

He appealed to Kenyans to read the draft and understand it properly so that they can make informed choices.

Mr Muite who is in favour of a pure Parliamentary system also expressed his misgivings on a hybrid system as proposed in the draft.

He urged Kenyans to pick either a presidential or parliamentary system basing it on Kenya\\\’s democracy and political stability. He also said the two systems would make it possible for the country to hold the top leader accountable to avoid shift of blame on to two centres of power.

"France has a hybrid system of governance, but it is an old democracy; it has got a civil society and an economy that works and that can ignore politics," he said.

Given misgivings that only one draft would be voted for at the referendum, the former Kabete legislator said it would do no harm for
Parliament to adjust the law to allow for presentation of different drafts for a vote.

He said having only one draft was a risk in case Kenyans are unsatisfied with a few clauses in the draft.  Mr Muite acknowledged that the draft contained many positive laws.

He advocated for minimum reforms to ensure that issues that had been agreed upon were transferred to the existing draft.

"If they address incremental amendments – like the chapter on the Judiciary is excellent – why do we want to jeopardise implementation of that excellent chapter, why don\\\’t we uplift that chapter and put it into the current constitution?" he asked.

He also raised concerns on cost implications on the proposed devolved government.

"First you have an enlarged National Assembly, a fairly large Senate, below that there is a regional government elected and below it the county governments. I would like the committee to do the costing of how much that expansion will cost the country."

He further hoped that the committee carefully considered that devolution does not act as a catalyst of spreading corruption in the management of development funds.

Mr Muite however dismissed the recall clause for MPs saying it was a possible tool for sabotage and a good reason for sustaining incessant campaigns between elections.

He said he was certain that it will be the first issue Parliament will expunge from the draft once tabled in the House for discussion.


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