, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – Political cracks crystalised on Thursday when a group of 24 MPs ganged up to form a caucus campaigning for the fall of the proposed Constitution at the forthcoming referendum.
Led by Cabinet Ministers William Ruto (Agriculture) and Amason Jeffa Kingi (East African Community), the leaders cited concerns on a powerful presidency with weak a checking system as well as issues regarding land, devolution and abortion which they say must first be resolved.
Addressing a press conference at Parliament buildings, Wajir West MP Adan Keynan added that minority communities would be affected by demarcation of constituencies while Tigania East legislator Peter Munya maintained that consensus should be sought before the draft constitution goes to the referendum.
“The fact that Kenyans have been waiting for a Constitution for a long time does not mean that they must pass a draft that does not meet their expectations,” said Mr Munya.
Also joining the dissenting voices was PNU Vice Chairman George Nyamweya who has accused the international community of pushing the reform agenda on Kenyans.
“We are being asked that because it pleases some people in Washington that we must support because they have given Kenya some timelines; we are the ones who live here and we know where the shoe pinches. We would like to do what is right for Kenya and at our own pace,” said the Nominated MP.
The news conference was attended by MPs from Rift Valley, Coast, and Eastern provinces. Notable attendees included Rev Mutava Musymi, Eugene wamalwa and Simon Mbugua, among others.
Also present, Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo said the Chapter on Land completely alters the land tenure system and could lead to chaos similar to the ones that occurred after the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe`s government nationalised farms belonging to white settlers.
“The draft Constitution changes the land tenure system from capitalism to socialist; it is against hardworking Kenyans and encourages a culture of laziness.”
At an earlier function, Mr Ruto differed with Prime Minister Raila Odinga over his statement that the draft cannot be renegotiated before a referendum is held. The ODM Deputy Leader maintained that this was the proper time to review and correct contentious chapters in the document.
While declaring his support for the draft on Wednesday, Mr Odinga said that opening up the document at this stage for renegotiations would only bring about confusion and undermine the entire process.
But Mr Ruto wants amendments on the Constitutional Review Act (2008).
He said; “every reasonable Kenyan knows today that there are issues with the Constitution, if the document was as sound as we were meant to believe, what were the amendments all about? Whoever is telling Kenyans that pass the document you can amend it later is not being honest.”