KNCHR calls for a powerful President

December 12, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has joined calls for a more powerful President as opposed to the ceremonial one President provided by the Harmonised Draft Constitution.

Commission Chairperson Florence Jaoko said on Saturday that having been popularly elected the President must have powers to influence parliamentary agenda and check the performance of the Prime Minister.

She said the President should have a mechanism that will allow him implement his party’s agenda (through which he/she will have campaigned on). The PM she said, should be obligated through Parliament to implement policies.

“If the President is going to be the symbol of national unity and guarantee citizens there is order as a person elected by us, he must have some leverage over the Premier and Parliament,” she said adding that the Commission was in total support of the hybrid system.

Mrs Jaoko however stated that the powers and functions of the two officers should be clearly spelt out.

“If Parliament and the Prime Minister are doing something that the citizens are not happy about then the President must have a mechanism of addressing this,” she said in a press conference where she made a raft of proposals for amendments to the draft law.

The state run institution is however supporting the proposals to have the Prime Minister appoint the Ministers and chair Cabinet meetings.

“The list can be approved by the President or Parliament but it is up to the PM and his party to make sure that they come up with a Cabinet that delivers. We hope that political parties will become stronger, visionary and focused,” she said.

On devolution matters the Commission said it supported a two-tier system encompassing the National and the Counties saying that the provision for regional governments should be abandoned as it was not necessary.

“Clear criteria on the number of senators per region should be provided since these are in essence the regional representatives of the people,” she said.

The Commission supported the direct election of senators as opposed to the current provision where the same would be elected by the counties.

Kenyans have five more days to give their proposals for amendments to the new law. After that the Committee of Experts on Constitution will incorporate the proposals in a document to be forwarded to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution which too will make its recommendations. The same will be accommodated in the draft law that will be forwarded to the House for debate and later adoption.

The Experts have identified the system of government, devolution and transitional clause as the main contentious issues which Kenyans need to gain consensus on.


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