Kenyan lawyers oppose hybrid govt

December 16, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 16 – The Law Society of Kenya has opposed the proposed hybrid system of government saying it could be a recipe for chaos and confusion over executive authority.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Chairman Okongo Omogeni said the country should have one chief executive who would be accountable to the electorate and Parliament.

Mr Omogeni said the Committee of Experts (CoE) on Constitution should present to Kenyans the two options of either a pure Presidential or pure Parliamentary system for vote in the referendum.

“In our view it is not ideal to have two chief executives,” he said. “That Chief Executive could be the President or the Prime Minister and then we could have delegated powers to other institutions and clear checks and balances on that person.”

The experts have identified the system of government, devolution and transitional clause as the main contentious issues which Kenyans need to reach consensus on. The draft proposes a ceremonial President and a powerful Premier a proposal that has been opposed by many.

While politicians have accepted the possibility of a hybrid system they have largely disagreed on the division of power between the President and Prime Minister. Most Kenyans have however agreed on a two-tier government comprising the National and Counties.

In its submission to the Committee LSK faulted the Experts for setting the number of regions and counties saying this should have been left to the Interim Boundaries Review Commission.

“Since the Boundaries Commission has the mandate to collect views from Kenyans and come out with a scientific formula, it should be the one to guide the committee,” he said.

In other views the LSK welcomed a proposal to vet all judges afresh once the new constitution is enacted. Mr Omogeni said this would ensure that rebuilding of the tainted image of the Judiciary as they would start on a clean plate. The lawyers are however calling for the increase in the number of days provided for the resolution of Presidential petition from seven to 60.

A 30-day window provided by CoE to members of the public to submit their proposed amendments on the draft constitution expires on Thursday. Political parties, civil society organisations and other Kenyans are rushing to beat the deadline and hand in their proposals. CoE Director Ekuru Aukot assured Kenyans that their views would be incorporated in the revised draft.

“We have already started the process of analyzing and we already have an interim report. What we are trying to do now is coding the various memoranda we receive,” he said.

He said politicians would not be allowed to hijack the process. After the expiry of the deadline the Committee will have 21 days to incorporate the proposed amendments and then submit a draft law to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution which will then scrutinize and make its recommendations.


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