, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 26 – Negotiations between the State and the Church over the Proposed Constitution failed to kick off on Monday indicating no signs of an end to the dispute.
The consensus building talks hit a snag after the government side reportedly said it was not ready to proceed with the talks forcing the meeting to be re-scheduled for Wednesday.
Church leaders who left the meeting frustrated accused the government of applying delaying tactics on the matter.
“The Church has been ready but the government told us they needed more time for their technical team,” said Bishop Gerry Kibarabara, the Chairman of the Kenya Christian Constitution Forum.
The meeting was aimed at addressing the church\’s opposition to the inclusion of Kadhis courts and a clause that they say leaves a loophole for the legalisation of abortion in the draft law.
The Church wants amendments before the August referendum but the State aims at convincing Christians to endorse the draft with a commitment to make amendments immediately Constitution is enacted.
The dispute spilled outside the meeting with Bishop Kibarabara telling journalists outside Harambee House that the Church would proceed with its No campaign while Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo maintained that the government would up its Yes campaign.
“My Ministry is the facilitator of the meeting and as such we are standing for Yes and a very firm Yes,” said the Justice Minister.
It was hoped that the talks could help quiet the dissent by Christians and give the new law a greater acceptance given their numbers.
“Our issues are still very hot,” said Bishop Kibarabara.
Sources outside the meeting said the stakes were too high and it was unlikely the talks would materialise since no alterations can be made to the draft law at this stage.
The sources opine the demands by the churches could not be met and this had placed the government in a dilemma.
“Soon we will be facilitating other meetings with those opposing the new law on account of other issues,” said Mr Kilonzo.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, a key leader of the Yes Campaign poured cold water on the talks and said the Yes and No Campaigners should meet at the referendum.