Case to stop Kenya vote gathers interest

July 2, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 2 – The Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court (IICDRC) has allowed four applicants to be enjoined in a petition filed by Kenyans for Justice and Development (KEJUDE) seeking to have the August 4 referendum suspended.

The petition which was filed by KEJUDE Director Okiya Omtatah has drawn the interest of various civil society groups with some supporting it and while others are against it.

Through their lawyer Haroun Ndubi, the Center for Multiparty Democracy while opposing the petition accused the petitioner of attempting to use the dispute resolution court to scuttle the Constitution review process.

“The application is seeking to turn this court (IICDRC) into the Committee of Experts (CoE) or Parliament. One of the prayers they are asking for is an account by the CoE of how they have spent their funds and we are saying government departments don’t account to individual citizens,” he said.

Mr Ndubi added that the government and its departments only reported its activities to the Ministry of Finance and Parliament: “So it is not the correct time now to ask the CoE to give an account of how they have been procuring things.”

On their part, the Indigenous Tabernacle Council of Kenya represented by lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui supported the petitioner accusing the CoE of failing to encompass Kenyans’ views on the proposed new law.

Mr Kinyanjui alleged that the CoE copied the South African Constitution word for word and did not consider the opinions of Kenyans.

“If the CoE sat to take the comments that Kenyans had, how come you find that the document that was finally presented contains cut and paste provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa? It is extremely shocking and baffling,” he said.

Further, Mr Kinyanjui argued that the CoE was breaking the law as it was supposed to have stopped civic education 30 days after the publication of the draft.

“According to section 35 (1) of the Kenya Review Act number 9 the CoE should not be educating Kenyans right now because the period that Parliament gave to the CoE has already expired. They should have concluded these efforts by June 7 latest,” he said.

Mr Omtatah wants the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court to determine 75 issues. Key among them is the failure by the IIEC to give Kenyans a multi question referendum. He also wants the court to address the issue of civic education saying that the CoE is biased in its educative efforts.

The other two interveners are against the petition. They include Bunge la Wananchi National Coordinator Robert Nyongesa and Patrick Onyango. Mr Onyango took part in the preparation of the Bomas draft.

Mr Nyongesa argued that Kenya’s reform agenda would be jeopardised if the constitutional review process was halted.

“The greater public interest of the people of Kenya may suffer detriment if the current constitutional moment was lost. Majority of Kenyans who have borne the brunt of bringing this Constitution are eager to break from the impunity, corruption and bad governance that hold this country,” he said.


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