, NAIVASHA, Kenya, Jan 19 – Parliamentarians have deleted a controversial clause in the draft Constitution that experts had warned could legalise same sex marriages.
In its second day of its week-long retreat the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Constitutional Review yielded to public pressure to seal the ‘loophole that could give gay marriages a legal lifeline.’
The proposed draft had stated that “every adult has the right to found a family” raising eyebrows especially from religious leaders who had threatened to reject the document saying this was a Western ideal.
The team spent much of its second day debating the Bill of Rights which is the fifth Chapter. Reports indicated that the committee deleted close to half of the chapter claiming “the Committee of experts was influenced by the civil society.” The team also deleted any mention of the civil society in this chapter.
“The discussions are very cordial and are bearing fruits in terms of not having any disagreements,” PSC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed said in his short brief to the media.
“We have not had to vote on any issue. Everything we have agreed on has been on consensus and the environment is excellent.”
The quest to clearly outlaw abortion is however reported to remain unclear as the legislators failed to insert the clause stating that life starts at conception as requested by the clergy.
The committee later in the afternoon shelved debate on the sensitive chapter touching on Land and instead embarked on Representation which, according to Mr Mohammed, was to enable them ‘finalise on the political matters first.’ He said the team would start on the more controversial chapter on Executive on Wednesday.
Other hot chapters to follow include the Legislature, Devolution and the Judiciary.
The harmonised draft proposes a two-chamber Parliament, two levels of devolution and far-reaching changes to the Judiciary.
At the same time Mr Mohammed maintained that there will be only one draft for Kenyans to vote on in the much anticipated national referendum. He said they were keen on coming up with one system of government by consensus.
“We intend to agree on one system of government; be it parliamentary, presidential or any other form. I am confident that we should be able to come to some agreement on that point,” he said.
His latest statement comes amid reports of a deal by the PSC to do away with the hybrid system proposed by CoE which would see Executive authority shared out between a President and a Prime minister.
ODM tends to favour a Parliamentary, with a powerful Prime Minister elected by MPs while PNU says it wants a presidential system, where the President will be powerful, but checked by other institutions.
The retreat is meant to arrive at a compromise on the contentious issues, among them the form of government the country will adopt, and emerge with a document that will be acceptable to MPs in Parliament and Kenyans at the referendum.