Kenyan parties differ over draft

March 11, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11- The Party of National Unity is now pointing an accusing finger at its coalition partner saying it is frustrating efforts to reach a consensus over the proposed constitution.
PNU says Orange Democratic Movement head Prime Minister Raila Odinga is sabotaging the process of consensus building and scuttling the efforts.

In a statement read on Thursday by Tigania East MP Peter Munya the party said Parliament must be allowed to discuss the proposed Constitution and reach a consensus before the referendum. They proposed that Parliamentarians go for a retreat next week to debate the draft and help them reach an agreement to avert a repeat of the 2005 referendum outcome.

“In view for this need for consensus therefore it is still our considered view that another meeting of the entire Parliament must be organised before the draft is debated on the floor of the House. It has been a tradition for Parliament to go for a retreat to build consensus among the political class,” he said.

Mr Munya also maintained that the only way a new Constitution could be mid-wifed was through a mutual understanding between the two sides of the political divide.

“A majority of Members of Parliament in ODM and PNU share this view. It is only a small clique in ODM who are doing everything to stall the process. Until all MPs are happy with the draft and until all Kenyans are happy with the draft, it is not possible to impose a minority view on everybody else,” he said.

He further warned the political class to stop using the constitutional review process as a means of preparing themselves for the oncoming general elections saying it would divide the country.

“Let nobody think that this process can be a way of organising yourself to take power. It is a document to build the stabilities of the entire country where every Kenyan must be satisfied,” he said.

The MPs also took issue with allegations that Parliamentarians would maim the proposed Constitution once it fell on their hands. They maintained that Parliament was the national body mandated with the responsibility of amending laws arguing that Parliament was not a rubber stamp.

“When you hear people saying MPs are going to mutilate the draft are you saying the CoE, a committee that was appointed by Parliament is more important than Parliament in terms of carrying Kenyans’ views? Are you saying people who are elected into Parliament do not carry Kenyans’ views? That it is only people who are brought from outside who do not have a mandate from anybody who carry their views? Let us not be dishonest about this process,” said Mr Munya.

PNU Vice Chairman George Nyamweya explained that it was not right for Parliament to pass the draft without scrutinising it.

“Parliament has an independent right to look at the document and if need be change so it is not that we are just simply required to say ‘here it is pass it’. That is not the work of Parliament,” he said.

Mr Munya further argued that all the other bodies that played a role in the development of the proposed constitution had to go for a retreat so as to fulfill the task placed ahead of them.

“Just like the CoE went into a retreat to make the draft and just like the Parliamentary Select Committee we intended to go for a retreat to debate it without the procedures of Parliament that are very restrictive; in an atmosphere that is free so that people can ventilate and debate freely to be able to build consensus. The issue of the constitution is not about satisfying one party; it’s about all Kenyans,” he said.

Mr Nyamweya also added that the coalition party would continue campaigning for a consensus over the controversial issues of the proposed Constitution saying Kenyans deserved it. He said it didn’t matter where the MPs retreated to as long as they reached a mutual agreement over the draft and that the party would also continue fighting graft.

“We are asking Kenyans to remain calm because those few who have issues with the conflict cannot stop us. You remember yesterday we had the corruption issue and we know that that is what angered some of us to the point where they saw it fit to derail the consensus building efforts,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter who has been implicated in corruption scandals. We will continue following them up.”


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