Kenyan MPs insist on consensus talks

March 15, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – Close to 100 Members of Parliament now want the debate on the Proposed Constitution set to begin on Tuesday shelved and instead a consensus building retreat that aborted last week rescheduled.

Meeting under the Parliamentary Caucus for Reforms on Monday, the MPs proposed to re-table a Motion of adjournment on Tuesday afternoon after a previous attempt last week faced defeat.  The lawmakers feel it is necessary for them to hold an informal session to thrash out the contentious issues before debate in the House.

“We have resolved it will be necessary to adjourn the normal sittings so that we can go and talk and reach an understanding on issues that are not clear,” said the convener of the group Garsen MP Danson Mungatana.

“We intend to execute our role as stipulated in the law in a cordial but very organised manner.”

The MPs sent a petition to the Speaker so that the adjournment Motion can be included in Tuesday’s order of Parliamentary business.

Twenty five MPs defeated last week’s Motion claiming that the retreat was meant to mutilate the Proposed Constitution. Those who supported the retreat numbered 23.

Mr Mungatana told a press conference that the MPs identified 25 issues they termed as contentious but was quick to add that they were determined to reach a compromise on the issues and approach debate from a common view.

Major controversial issues included the date of general elections, abortion, powers of the Senate, fresh vetting of judges, the number of MPs, the revenue allocation commisssion and the role of the Prime Minister in making new appointments.

Mr Mungatana said they would request experts to be included in the retreat to explain to MPs the diverse issues.

“We do not want what happened in 2005 to repeat itself. We want to debate in a manner that will inform.  Not one that will create confusion and acrimony,” said the Garsen MP.

Monday’s meeting was dominated by backbenchers and Assistant Ministers but was also attended by Cabinet Ministers William Ruto, Mutula Kilonzo, Sam Ongeri, Amos Kimunya, Esther Murugi, Yusuf Haji, Beth Mugo and Amason Kingi.

Most of the legislators were not in the House during the defeated adjournment Motion last Wednesday, as some had already travelled to Naivasha ahead of the retreat that was to take place between Thursday and Saturday.

Once debate on the draft begins, any amendment must garner the support of 145 MPs to pass.

“Every MP represents a segment of the Kenyan people and if he/she feels there is an item he would want addressed then he must be given the opportunity to seek the support of 145 MPs,” said Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo.

The Proposed Constitution was tabled in the House two weeks ago for a 30-day debate period provided the law.  The Committee of Experts on the Constitution will have seven days to incorporate any amendments made before the documents returns back to Parliament.

The draft will then be forwarded to the AG for publication ahead of the referendum.


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