New chapter in Kenya Constitution quest

January 29, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – The Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review (PSC) on Friday handed over a “politically negotiated revised draft constitution” to the Committee of Experts renewing hopes in the two decade quest for a new law.

PSC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed presented a 252-article draft mainly of broad governance principles to the experts – a reduction from the earlier 310 articles. He reiterated that contentious issues were resolved on consensus and challenged the experts to input their expertise and reflect their resolutions.

“I am glad that we have all won and we are able to present a document we all support and through us the entire political class is supportive of,” he said.

Mr Mohammed defended the move by his committee to trim the document saying this would be complemented by Acts of Parliament.

“We have handled principles and establishments and left functions and other issues that can be handled by legislations to ordinary Acts of Parliament,” he said.

Committee of Experts (CoE) Chairman Nzamba Kitonga pledged to amend the document in line with the PSC recommendations. He, in the meantime, challenged the parliamentarians to hold onto the agreements they made in Naivasha and avoid the usual scenarios where members disown committee resolutions at public rallies.

“The committee will in the next 21 days critically examine the recommendations so as to factor them into the revised draft,” he said.

The PSC spent nearly two weeks in Naivasha to gain consensus on the document. Key agreements of the team include a pure Presidential system of government, a 349- member Parliament, a 47-member Senate and a two-tier devolution comprising the national government and 47 counties

The parliamentarians also resolved to entrench the Teachers Service Commission, the National Land Commission and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission into the Constitution. The team created the Internal Security Service Commission (to encompass the regular Police and the Administration Police) and a new human rights body – the Equality Commission.

To strengthen devolution, the committee has proposed that 15 percent of total State revenue be allocated to the counties.
“Because Constitution making is a human enterprise it cannot be perfect and so the draft we present today cannot be perfect,” PSC Vice Chairman Ababu Namwamba said.

The PSC defended itself from accusations that it has interfered with the work of the Interim Independent Boundary Review Commission (IIBRC) by setting up criteria for boundary review.

Mr Mohammed said it is within its mandate to entrench into the constitution criteria to guide IIBRC in its work. He added that this will ensure that subsequent governments do not abuse their powers and set new boundaries for political or selfish reasons.

The IIBRC turned down an invite by the PSC to discuss the issue of representation forcing the Committee to rely on statistics experts. The team fixed constituencies at 290 and mandated the IIBRC to demarcate the new units using a set criteria.


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