, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – “We as the principals in CORD recognise today as a day when the people of Kenya have joined the process of making our Constitution better” – these words of Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula during the launch of the one million signatures for the referendum campaign.
And they were not alone; they were joined by an unlikely guest, Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua, who together with the Law Society of Kenya said they supported CORD’s calls without reservation.
Also present during the launch was Ronnie Osumba, the running mate of Kenya National Congress Party leader Peter Kenneth – who was absent – but backs the referendum.
The coalition has called on Members of County Assemblies, the Council of Governors and progressive Kenyans to join the quest for reforms.
While addressing the crowd present during the launch at Ufungamano House in Nairobi, that was attended by members of the civil society and MPs in support of the initiative seeking major constitutional amendments over poor governance, Karua said it was time for leaders regardless of their political affiliation to unite and find solutions to the countless problems ailing the country, the first being the need to amend the Constitution.
“When the government says ‘no’ without reason, Kenyans can say ‘yes’ through a referendum. So I am saying yes, it is time for us without being shy to be together and talk about these things, and if jubilee doesn’t want to talk to CORD because they were rivals we too were rivals with CORD during the election, this does not make us any less Kenyans,” Karua asserted.
Graft whistle blower John Githongo and democracy crusader Richard Leakey also joined the coalition’s committee of experts. Leakey was among those that were in the forefront for constitutional reforms in the 1990s and will thus bring with him vast experience in how to initiate the process.
While reiterating the need for constitutional reforms, Leakey said the call was not just the Opposition’s. “There are many people in government who share our views but for political reasons couldn’t join us today.”
Githongo urged Kenyans to unite while acknowledging the need to preach peace as a referendum can polarise the country like in the 2005 referendum where Kenyans were split along tribal lines which were eventually a contributory factor to the 2007/08 post election mayhem.
In Githongo’s words: “We can only allow ourselves to go one way and that is forward into prosperity. For us to tip in the right direction requires our all efforts as Kenyans to ensure that our Constitution is protected, and the freedoms already hard-won protected jealously; that the principles of honesty, honor, equity and inclusivity and there, and how do we do this, Okoa is one of the ways.”
The speakers urged the Jubilee government not to fear as the referendum was meant to deal with the glaring flaws in the Constitution.
According to the chair of CORD’s Okoa Kenya Movement Committee of Experts Paul Mwangi, they will unveil the collection of signatures in the counties next week, further adding that there was no timeline in collection of the signatures as they were confident that they would collect more than a million of them.