Kenya MPs brace for draft law clash

March 29, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 29 – Members of Parliament are headed for a clash over amendments to the Proposed Constitution after submitting contradicting alterations, raising questions whether any of the changes will go through when they finally go for a vote.

The MPs shall debate and vote on the amendments this Wednesday which according to Parliament’s website has reached 50. Showdown looms over the conflicting proposed amendments reigniting the divisions that scuttled consensus building talks over the last two weeks.

In last week’s debate MPs agreed that the new document is way better that the current one but remained divided over its fate with a section insisting on passing it the way it is while another group insists that it must be amended.

On the emotive issue of devolution, the Orange Democratic Movement has through Khiswero MP Evans Akula submitted a proposal to introduce eight regions modeled along the current provincial boundaries and 74 counties countering the suggestion by the Party of National Unity through Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni to introduce 78 counties without regions.

The Committee of Experts has proposed two national and county governments with 47 counties in line with the original 47 districts.

Mr Akula’s proposal that has been popularised by ODM bigwigs and supported by Rift Valley leaders allocates Rift Valley 19 counties followed by Eastern at 13 while Nyanza has 12. Western shall have 8 counties while Central and Western provinces have been given eight units and Nairobi and North Eastern will have four each.

Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro will be attempting to compel the government to allocate at least 10 percent of the national revenue to constituencies. This is not expressly provided in the Proposed Constitution although the current law provides for a 2.5 percent allocation to the Constituency Development Fund.

On the emotive abortion debate Cabinet Ministers Esther Murugi (Gender), Otieno Kajwang (Immigration) and Beth Mugo (Public Health) are headed on the collision course. Ms Murugi and Mr Kajwang, will be seeking the House’s support to ‘clean’ the clause on life by deleting three clauses that provides on the limitations to life and outlaws abortion. Should these pass the section on life shall remain: “Every person has the right to life.”

This has been a position vocalised by the civil society and the medical practitioners who have argued that the definition of life and abortion should not be in the Constitution but rather should be left to an Act of Parliament.

On her part Mrs Mugo will be fighting to retain the article and completely outlaw abortion by deleting a clause that states that abortion can be allowed through legislation by Parliament, an attempt aimed at appeasing religious leaders who have threatened to mobilise their flock to defeat the new Constitution at the referendum if this is not changed.

Gideon Konchella will be fighting to bring back the clause requiring the President seeks Parliament’s approval in the appointments of the Chief Justice and other judges recommended by the revamped and independent Judicial Service Commission. The Experts removed this clause arguing that it would interfere with independence of the three arms of government.

Chepalungu MP is be bringing numerous amendments to the Chapter on Land to secure the interest of community land and ensure due process and compensation is followed should the government want to reclaim occupied land.

Others lined up to bring amendments are MPs David Musila (limiting access of information on National Security), Bifwoli Wakoli (on preserving cultural rites), John Mututho (to secure current Attorney General, Chief Justice and Chief Auditor and Controller General until the next general election) among others.

However as MPs rush to submit amendment proposals a section have vowed to frustrate saying their colleagues are out to mutilate the draft. Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara on Friday claimed to have mobilised 80 MPs to prevent what he called entrenchment of the views of the status quo.

All these amendments will each need the support of 145 MPs to pass.


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