, KENYA, Nairobi, May 11 – Leaders of 23 major political parties backing the Proposed Constitution on Tuesday resolved to form a Joint Secretariat to co-ordinate and oversee the Yes campaign.
A meeting co-chaired by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga also resolved that the leaders will encourage Kenyans across the country to read the proposed constitution and explain it to Kenyans by carrying out door to door campaigns.
“Truth and objectivity must form the basis of the campaigns ahead of the referendum. In this regard, the forum took issue with those who were misinterpreting contents of the new constitution and committed the Yes side to being truthful during the civic education period and the campaigns ahead of the referendum,” Mr Odinga said in a communiqué released after the meeting.
The Political Parties Consultative Forum pledged to persuade those agitating for the rejection of the new law during the post referendum period to foster unity and cohesion in the country.
He said the leaders pushing for the published draft appreciated the divergence of views in the constitutional debate but underscored the need for Kenyans to “walk together for the sake of the future generations”.
A Yes public rally is to be launched at Uhuru Park this Saturday.
“The campaigns for the Yes position will be done with respect and decorum. Leaders should not attack others for their stand,” said the PM.
“The new constitution was a project of the Kenyan people and should not be personalised or form the basis of campaigns for the 2012 elections.”
The parties further called on the international community not to interfere with the review process.
“The forum noted the need for the Kenyan people to be allowed the freedom and space to debate and vote for the constitution. The forum cautioned against meddling by external forces who may not fully understand the realities and desires of the Kenyan society,” Mr Odinga said.
This comes weeks after an American-based group opposed to abortion said it is donating "tens of thousands of dollars" to help defeat Kenya\’s proposed constitution.
The anti-abortion movement in the United States argues that the wording of the Kenyan draft constitution would in practice make abortion much more widely available in Kenya.
Although the Constitution guarantees the right to life, and the draft provides that life begins at conception, church leaders have vowed to fight it because of its provisions on abortion and Kadhis\’ Courts.
KANU Secretary General Nick Salat who has been calling for the rejection of the draft attended the meeting but left before it concluded.
The meeting comes at a time when some quarters within the Yes camp felt that the ODM wing led by Mr Odinga had locked out other parties from the campaign as it is seen to be pushing for the adoption of the draft.
Parties represented at the meeting included ODM, PNU, Kanu, Safina, Ford-Kenya, New Ford Kenya, ODM-Kenya, People Democratic Party, Chama Cha Uzalendo, Ford-People, UDM, Narc and Narc-Kenya among others.