, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 28 – President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have been challenged to take a central role in facilitating acceleration of consensus on the constitution before the referendum.
The International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) said on Monday that although it may appear prudent for the principals to allow free debate, letting their lieutenants lead the process through divided opinions is likely to worsen the situation.
“I think they are running away from responsibility by keeping quiet on this matter. The two of them (President and Premier) have a prime responsibility and centrality of bringing together the interest groups on a round table and help bring consensus,” said ICPC Executive Director Ndung’u Wainaina.
Mr Wainaina said if Kenya was to meet the ambitious timetable for completion of the crucial aspects of the reform programme set down by the Reform Roadmap before December 2010, it will be necessary for ministers, MPs, political parties and other interest groups to set aside partisan politics and opinions.
He said although every Kenyan citizen had a stake in the success of the reform agenda, and thus vital that the process remained participatory and takes place through proper democratic channels, there was still need for leadership.
“We all must find a common ground of basic things we can afford to move on in and mobilise the country around that,” Mr Wainaina added.
The Committee of Experts is currently working on the draft law and a referendum is expected mid next year but politicians are already engaged in rallies to popularise their stands.
Coalition partners ODM and PNU earlier in the month failed to reach a common position on the subject of executive authority despite convening a series of meetings.
There are fears that the haggling of top politicians may compromise the two-decade quest for a new Constitution.
“Right now we have the political elite pushing and pulling differently and similarly the country is doing the same. We have to find a convergence,” Mr Wainaina said.
ICPC said the President and the Prime Minister should not only keep up their promise of creating the road map for reforms but also produce a time line that is reasonable and within the year.
The center regretted that there was seriously limited progress on the part of the government on corruption and impunity; respect for and guaranteeing civil liberties and freedoms; addressing the Internally Displaced Persons concerns; and improving on the social material conditions of Kenyans particularly on food security, clean water, healthcare and security.