House awaits to debate Kenya draft law

March 2, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 2 – Kenya’s constitution making process took a leap on Tuesday after the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution Review (PSC) finally tabled the proposed law in the House.

Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed urged Parliament to give key consideration to chapters on the legislature, judiciary, devolution, transitional and consequential clauses.

He complained that the Committee of Experts (CoE) on constitution review ignored the political consensus agreed on by the PSC in Naivasha last month and watered down their version of the draft.

“Mr Speaker I give notice that pursuant to the provision of the Constitution of Kenya review Act 2008, this House approves the draft constitution prepared by the Committee of Experts,” he said.

Together with the proposed draft Mr Mohammed laid in Parliament the report of his committee and that of the Committee of Experts officially beginning the 30-day debate period.

Speaker Kenneth Marende announced a retreat for all MPs next weekend to enlighten them on the draft.  It will take place between March 12 and March 14. He urged members to approach “their duty with sobriety and patriotism.”

“It is my earnest hope that this retreat will assist members to make informed contributions when the debate commences,” he said.

The MPs have are required to debate and adopt the proposed law after which the Attorney General will be publish it in readiness for a referendum.  However, the MPs can make amendments after mobilising a two thirds majority support which means at least 148 legislators.
“This calls for unity of purpose and consensus building,” said the Speaker.

MPs interviewed by Capital News vowed that they would remain united in the debate.

“The retreat is welcome and I hope it will go a long way in bringing harmony within the MPs,” said Igembe South MP, Mithika Linturi.

The House was recalled a month earlier than usual to enable strict adherence to the deadlines of the review process. During the official opening of the fourth session last week, President Mwai Kibaki urged MPs to unite in delivering to the country the new constitution that has remained elusive for close to two decades.

The PSC met in Naivasha on Monday to scrutinise the draft it received from the CoE last Wednesday and prepared its report. The draft largely reflects what the MPs agreed in Naivasha last month during their 11-day retreat characterised by political agreements.

The draft law has proposed a Presidential System of government modelled alongside the American one and a two tier devolution encompassing the National Government and 47 Counties.  Also projected is a 68-member Senate with powers to debate the Impeaching of the President and his deputy and laws relating to the counties.

All Judges will also be vetted afresh while the Provincial Administration will be restructured to reflect the new devolved system.

The experts however made minor but critical changes particularly the creation of a powerful senate and the creation of the Revenue allocation Commission, provisions which have elicited some discontent among MPs.  It is expected that PSC will be using the retreat to gauge whether there is enough support to make amendments to these provisions.

The number of counties is also contentious among the lawmakers with a section vowing to push for an increase.

“The issue of counties I know will be raised by many members,” said Livestock Assistant Minister, Adan Duale.

“There is no point why in our region we should have two constituencies with a country while another seven large constituencies with one county. That is unfair and the constitution should address unfairness,” said Imenti North MP Silas Ruteere.


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