Experts caution Kenyans against amendments

August 12, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – The Committee of Experts that drafted the new Constitution has dismissed calls by a section of politicians and members of the clergy for the amendment of the ratified law.

Chairman Nzamba Kitonga told journalists on Thursday that the statute does not give room to any group to declare newly-found contentious issues in the new law.

“Amending a Constitution is not a simple task; while some members of the citizenry may have concerns relating to the new Constitution, those are not contentious issues within the meaning of the statute,” he said.

He said the Constitutional amendment Act only recognised issues that were raised during the constitution-making period and that “those issues were clearly dealt with at that time.”

“The law does not allow anyone to come up with issues and identify them under the new law and term them as contentious issues. Those cannot be contentious issues,” he said.

Mr Kitonga who led a team of lawyers in drafting the new law that was overwhelmingly ratified during a national referendum held on August 4 further warned that it is not a simple task to amend any section of the new Constitution.

“Amending even one clause of the Constitution impacts on the entire document leading to distortion and disharmony in its structure,” he warned.

He blamed numerous amendments carried out in the old Constitution as the main causes of the problems in the country.

“The old Constitution ended up becoming disfigured beyond recognition because of such amendments,” he said and urged Kenyans to give the new law a grace period of at least 10 years before any attempt at amending it.

“We recommend a prolonged period of patience to allow for the implementation of the new Constitution so as to test its application before any amendments are considered in future,” he said.

A section of politicians led by Higher Education Minister William Ruto and some members of the clergy who were spearheading opposition of the new law have maintained the need to have amendments made in the new law before it is effected.

Among the issues they are terming contentious in the Constitution include the Kadhi Courts, abortion and land which they claim are not favourable for Kenyans.

66.9 percent of those who voted in the August 4 referendum passed the new law while 30.6 opposed it.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) said 9,106,285 votes were cast in the exercise, out of which 218,633 votes (3.5percent) got spoilt. A total of 12.4 million Kenyans had registered as voters.

“The votes cast for Yes in the 210 constituencies are 6,092,593 while those for No are 2,795,059 votes,” IIEC Chairman Issack Hassan said.

President Mwai Kibaki is due to promulgate the new constitution on August 27 at a ceremony to be held at Uhuru Park.


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