It is now or never, Kenyans told

July 19, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19 – Civil Society Organisations have warned that Kenyans will not have another chance to vote for a new Constitution this year, or in the near future, if the current document is rejected in the August 4 referendum.

Constitution and Reform Education Consortium Chairman Tom Kagwe said before March next year, no law can be written or passed to draft a new constitution, while mandates of various bodies such as the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) and the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission are due to expire soon.

“If Kenyans squander this chance, then they should be prepared to wait for many years. This is because there is no room for amendment of the proposed Constitution currently, as Parliament cannot marshal the requisite 65 percent majority to change the Constitution of Kenya,” he argued.

The Constitution of Kenya Review Act and its key organ – the Committee of Experts – mandates will end by December 2010 and hence there will be nobody or law to re-start the review process, he stressed.

Under the slogan ‘Reject, Amend then Pass’ those campaigners opposed to the draft have been promising to improve the draft in at least two months and then subject it to another referendum before year-end.

This assertion was however dismissed by the activists who said that the only recourse would be to extend the life of the current Parliament, a move many Kenyans may not support.

George Nyongesa of Bunge La Mwananchi, however said they are determined to carry out civic education, in a bid to counter falsehoods that are being peddled by those opposed to the proposed law.

Doing so, he said, would enable those who are undecided on the draft to make up their mind and in turn increase the percent of those supporting the proposed Constitution.

Findings of an opinion poll released on Friday indicated that 18 percent of registered voters were still undecided but the activists said they would intensify campaigns particularly among young people in order to sway then to the ‘Yes” side.

Speaking during a press briefing, the two underscored the need for those in support of the proposed document to step up their efforts in all the eight provinces so that they achieve a national tally of at least 75 percent of the votes cast, a figure that would give the win unparalleled political legitimacy.

At the same time, the organisations under the umbrella of ‘Katiba Sasa Campaign’ said they would not relent in their resolve to oppose an increase in lawmakers’ salaries and allowances.


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