Kenya MPs prepare vote on new law

March 28, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 28 -Battle lines have been drawn as Members of Parliament prepare to vote on the proposed constitution this week before the document finally moves out of the House on Thursday as stipulated by the Constitution of Kenya Review Act.

MPs are scheduled to debate and vote on the amendments on Wednesday.

By Thursday the office of the Clerk had 19 amendments surrounding abortion, Kadhis courts and the tenures of the Attorney General, Chief Justice and the Auditor and Controller General.

There were unconfirmed reports that close to 200 requests for amendments had reached the legal team by Friday. The panel will however merge most of the proposals since they touch on similar matters.

Should any of the amendments pass the document will be sent back to the Committee of Experts for incorporation.

Should the proposed document pass without amendments it will be forwaded to the Attorney General for publication in readiness for the referendum.

The reality of the daunting task of passing amendments started sinking late last week with two Cabinet Ministers admitting that there are slim chances of success.

Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang said it was unlikely that the numerous amendments being fronted by Members of Parliament would pass the test of 145 members\’ support to sail through.

Mr Kajwang said with the battle lines between political parties already drawn, it was almost certain none of the amendments would pass.

"Sixty five percent is close to unanimous and one will have to bring a very good amendment which almost all of us agree with," said Mr Kajwang.

The Minister however said there was a shared feeling that the Proposed Constitution is better than the current law, and would sail through the House with or without amendments.

"Our party (Orange Democratic Movement) had planned to push for the introduction of regions but we have noticed it is going to be a bit difficult to get agreement," he added.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo concurred with Mr Kajwang but said non-political issues could attract the numbers. He singled out the clause on abortion and the creation of the Parliamentary Fund as some of the issues which had support across the political divide.

Mr Kilonzo however regretted that failure by MPs to agree in their retreat early in the week had made the situation more difficult.

"I would propose to those seeking amendments to seek support across the board and put the amendments that have considerable consensus in a package then we can vote for them in the House easily," he told Capital News on phone from his Mbooni constituency.

However as Members of Parliament rush to submit amendment proposals, a section were vowing to frustrate any amendments to the proposed Constitution, 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.

"Those of us who are determined to bring a new Constitution have agreed to block all attempts for amendments," he told Capital News. "We should not be worried by the sideshows and the narrow considerations that is behind a lot of these new proposed amendments."



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