Kenyan VP softens stand on new law

May 3, 2010 12:00 am

, YATTA, Kenya, May 3 – Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has toned down what appeared to be a controversial stand he introduced to the referendum debate in remarks he made on Sunday.

After announcing his support for the proposed draft law a few weeks ago, the Vice President made a surprise twist at the weekend and called for the establishment of a referendum law to guide the process, in an apparent support for the church leaders and a small section of politicians who have vowed to shoot it down.

Mr Musyoka had said on Sunday that there was need to “establish a referendum law which would provide for a possibility of having a Yes- Yes vote and avoid a situation where the country would end up polarised after the referendum process.”

“What is so difficult in having a referendum law, is it not possible to frame the question in accordance with the referendum law which we will have enacted? That there will be those who will say Yes for the current draft constitution and others will say Yes but with one or two amendments, so it is a Yes-Yes situation,” he said on Sunday.

But on Monday morning, his Spokesman Kaplich Barsito sent a statement to newsrooms which appeared to tone down the Sunday tune which some analysts saw as a sharp contradiction of the Cabinet decision reached last week.

“Mr Musyoka has reiterated the need for Kenyans to pass the Draft Constitution and usher in a new dispensation, while giving room for dialogue on the contentious issues,” the statement sent from Mr Musyoka’s Yatta Home said.

“He has not, and does not intend to contradict the decision of the Cabinet to support the draft,” it stressed.

The statement said the Mwingi North legislator has asked politicians not to antagonise the church but “instead allow room for dialogue in order to reach consensus on the draft constitution.”

“It is time for leaders to think out of the box and embrace dialogue. Let us go out there with respect and tolerance on each other’s views,” VP added.

The statement was an apparent response to media reports that indicated that he was backtracking on the Cabinet stand reached at State House, Nairobi last week.

The Vice President said his statements were based on the fact that the Cabinet had endorsed the proposed law with room left for dialogue to ensure the country remains united during and after the referendum process.

He however, insisted on the need to “consider the possibility of coming up with a referendum law to guide the process.”

Attorney General Amos Wako has announced that he will publish the proposed constitution this Thursday to allow Kenyans an opportunity to read and understand it and give members of the the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) a platform to conduct civic education as stipulated in the laws governing the constitution-making process.


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