Kenya PM rules out Constitution deal

May 18, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has now dashed hopes of amending the new Constitution if it passes during the August 4 referendum, to accommodate the concerns of the Church.

Mr Odinga on Tuesday appeared to break an earlier promise by the government that it would support amendments after the referendum to appease protests by the Church leaders.

The PM insisted that the demands by the clergy “cannot be negotiated since they relate to differences on interpretation and not substance.”

“We think even after the enactment of the new Constitution, there really will be no room for negotiations,” he said at a forum organised by the British business chamber of commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce.

“Why do you lose sleep because there are Kadhis courts in the Constitution?” he posed adding that “we don’t see any logic to remove them.”

On the divisive clause on abortion, Mr Odinga said the definition on when life begins was inserted in the Constitution at the “instigation of the Church.”

“If there is complication in the pregnancy, doctors are allowed to save lives. Again it is a question of interpretation and we don’t think saving lives is abortion, other people think otherwise,” he said.

The PM accused politicians opposed to the draft on the basis of the land chapter as selfish individuals seeking to protect their ill-gotten property.

“It is only those who illegally acquired public land who are raising opposition. We are saying Kenya is bigger than them,” he said.

A Cabinet resolution last month ruled out amendments before the referendum but promised the clergy that the State would facilitate discussions on possible amendments to accommodate their fears on the sanctity of life. The offer was however rejected by the church leaders who insisted on amendments before the referendum.

The leaders have teamed up with a group of politicians opposed to the Land Chapter – mainly from the Rift Valley – in pushing the rejection of the proposed Constitution. The No camp accepts the document is largely good but says the three offending clauses are fundamental and need to be amended.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission on Monday announced that a Yes vote would be symbolised by the colour Green, while a No would be represented by the colour Red.

Mr Odinga said the Yes camp was pleased to have Green as its official campaign colour.

“We are happy with Green because it means Green light. Red card as you know, means you leave the field so they have been red-carded even before the match has started,” he said.


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