Kenyan No team insists on law changes

August 14, 2010 12:00 am



NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 14 – The political leaders who opposed a new Constitution on Saturday maintained that they would continue to push for amendments to the clauses they consider contentious in the new law.

Led by Cabinet Minister William Ruto, the MPs said they hope the government would honour its campaign pledge and support the amendments.

"Kenyans were promised amendments after the other team acknowledged contentious issues in the draft. All what we are asking now is that the principals walk the talk by having the issues resolved immediately," Mr Ruto said during a thanksgiving party for the No camp grassroots leaders at the Arboretum grounds in Nairobi.

He said they support the full implementation of the new Constitution but with amendments, as most of its provisions were good for the country.

"We urge that the concerns of the 2.7 million Kenyans who voted against the ratified Constitution be immediately addressed so that they can unreservedly support the new constitutional dispensation," he said.

"The constitution is a property of all Kenyans, it does not belong to the six million people who voted for it," Mr Ruto emphasized.

During the referendum campaigns, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga had asked the No team mainly churches to support the new Constitution with a pledge to work on contentious issues later.

Church leaders were against a clause on the right to life, claiming that it gave leeway to abortion on demand. The churches also wanted Kadhi\’s courts to be eliminated from the Constitution.

Mr Ruto also dismissed threats by MPs from his Orange Democratic Movement to suspend him and other legislators who campaigned against the recent ratified Constitution.

"Only simple minds discuss individuals, great minds discuss issues," he said.

Speaking after the party\’s Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting on Thursday, ODM Secretary General Anyang\’ Nyong\’o said stern action would be taken against Mr Ruto and his group for going out against the party\’s position to support the document that was ratified by a majority of Kenyans last week.

Mr Ruto has also dismissed efforts to exclude No camp MPs from the Parliamentary Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee.

"We dont need permission of a few for us to have our say," he said.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are said to have summoned MPs to a joint Parliamentary Group meeting on Monday to forestall the sharp divisions anticipated when Parliament establishes the committee.

The two principals would use the meeting to impress on MPs the need to set aside their political differences and come up with a credible list.

The powerful committee will be the link between Parliament and the Executive as 73 Bills are enacted into law over the next five years to operationalise the ratified constitution.



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