Rival Kenya parties differ on new law

November 12, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 12 – It is now emerging that Kenya’s main political parties are headed for a major showdown as the Committee of Experts (CoE) on constitution review prepares to publish the harmonized draft law later this month.

Capital News has seen memoranda written by the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) which show strong divergent opinions on the key issues of governance and the separation of power.

In its proposals, ODM insists on a ceremonial President and a powerful Prime Minister, a position its lieutenants have clearly stated in public. PNU on the other hand is pushing for the Chief Executive of this country to be elected directly by the people, thereby disqualifying an executive PM.

Both parties are however in agreement that the Prime Minister should come from the party with the largest number of MPs.

“Executive authority is to be vested in the President and exercised by him directly or through a Deputy President, the Prime Minister, the Cabinet or any other officer provided in the constitution,” PNU states in their memorandum.

Whereas PNU maintains that the President should be the Head of State and government and chair the Cabinet, ODM wants the Prime Minister to lead the government and Chair Cabinet meetings. ODM also wants the executive PM to Chair the National Security Council, a responsibility PNU wants reserved for their version of an executive President.

“The PM shall be the Head of Government and Minister responsible for Public service,” reiterates ODM in its memorandum.

The Party of National Unity also wants the powers to appoint Permanent Secretaries and constitutional office holders left to the President, a view disputed by ODM.

The two parties have also differed on the tenure of the Attorney General.  PNU wants the President to appoint the AG ‘in consultation’ with the PM but ODM says the Premier should have the prerogative of recommending the government’s chief legal advisor to the President for appointment.

Further, ODM wants the AG to vacate office at the swearing in of a new President while PNU proposes the new President to have the prerogative to decide his/her fate.

“The AG should be in the Cabinet as Minister for Justice with a right to vote,” ODM proposes.

The two parties are in agreement that the President should chair the National Defence Council and the PM to be the Leader of Government Business in Parliament. 
They also agree that coalitions should be formed only between parliamentary parties and within the Constitution. Their proposals also give political parties the powers to recall errant members of Parliament.

On devolution, ODM wants the local government left as it is and the provincial administration replaced by regional government. PNU on the other hand proposes that the local government be scrapped and the regional government to serve its purpose.

After the draft is published members of public will have 30 days to scrutinise it and make recommendations for amendments.


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