Kenyans asked to be vigilant

August 6, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 6 – The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has called for extra vigilance from Kenyans as focus shifts to enactment of laws and commissions needed for the implementation of the new Constitution.

KHRC Executive Director Muthoni Wanyeki on Friday also asked Kenyans to remain focused on Parliament’s performance especially with regard to the passing of new legislations.

She argued that the current National Assembly would require more commitment than it had shown in the past, having only passed six new laws so far.

“It is important for Kenyans to insist and realise that this is a really important step but we also have to maintain the pressure for the supporting legislations and make it clear that there is demand that Parliament needs to respond to,” she said.

Ms Muthoni further called on President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to uphold the cooperation they displayed during the referendum campaigns, saying it would go a long way in healing the divisions that came up with the campaigns’ rhetoric.

“This collaborative spirit between the two principals needs to be maintained. If they keep it up, those sections of alliances can move legislations forward. If they don’t maintain and sort of slip back and relax, everything can get stuck at the Parliamentary level and that’s a very real risk,” she said.

On his part, Programmes Coordinator Tom Kagwe argued that there were safeguards against Parliament which Kenyans could use to keep tabs on. He said Parliament would have little choice on whether or not to pass the new legislations.

“Article 261 (of new Constitution) is where the real power of checking Parliament is. They must pass those laws; if they fail to pass them then Parliament will be dissolved, the MPs will go home and we will have fresh elections. In addition the new laws just require a simple majority- 50 MPs can pass these legislations,” he said.

He also called upon the National Assembly to put in extra effort and at least pass 15 to 20 new legislations before 2012 arguing that Parliament had for a long time handed Kenyans a raw deal.

“Parliament has been messing up with Kenyans’ time. They must start working and the work must be commensurate with their pay. They are already getting a lot of money so what we are asking for is that they get to work,” he said.

The KHRC also asked the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) to find out why people’s names were lacking from the voter registers despite their registering on time. He also called upon them to find the reason behind the large number of spoilt votes.

Mr Kagwe who explained that it would not be difficult to pass the proposed laws as some of them had already been drafted also asked the Chief Justice and Attorney General to leave office at least within a month so as to show the seriousness the government has in implementing the constitution.

Once the IIEC gets all the results of the referendum, it will gazette the official results in the Kenya gazette. The President will then promulgate the new constitution within 14 days after which the Attorney General will publish it in the Kenya gazette. It is on that day that it becomes effective while the current Constitution stands repealed. But to ensure a smooth and seamless transition, there will be sections in the old Constitution that will continue; for instance clauses that deal with legislation and section 58 which deals with Parliamentary matters.

On the effective date, all issues that don’t require legislation come into force for example those pertaining to the Bill of Rights start immediately. The areas of the Constitution which have been suspended like the chapter on the Executive, that of the Legislature and the one on the representation of the people will be implemented after the general elections- which according to the new Constitution should be on August 14th 2012.


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