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Kibaki: New constitution within sight

NAIROBI, August 20 – President Mwai Kibaki Wednesday reassured Kenyans of the government’s commitment to deliver a new constitution.

Speaking at the official opening of a Regional Conference on Constitutional Democracy in Africa in the 21st century, President Kibaki said he viewed the conclusion of the constitution-making process as a pivotal collective objective to entrench freedom and openness in the country.

He blamed political differences for the derailment of the constitutional process saying leaders had failed to put aside personal interests and instead undermined the wishes of Kenyans.

“The road to a new constitutional dispensation has been long and sometimes bumpy. In the National Constitutional Review Conference at Bomas, Kenyans gave their views regarding the content of a new constitution,” he said.

“Unfortunately, political differences derailed the consensus building process and the proposed constitution did not get the full acceptance of Kenyans.”

The President called for togetherness as the government embarks on the process.

He also appealed to constitution makers to speed up the process for the common good of the nation.

“I urge Parliament to pass the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, and the Constitution of Kenya Review Bill, which will set in motion the process of reviewing the constitution,” he said.

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Kibaki shared his vision of democracy and freedom by saying his desire was to make Kenya a free society.

“I have envisioned a free country where democracy thrives at all levels. In all my political life I have endeavoured to create space for the full expression of our people’s creativity, passion and vitality,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua and Attorney General Amos Wako, who also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to deliver a new constitution within a year.

Karua urged Kenyans to support the process and be part of it to ensure it is a people driven process.

On the Judiciary, Karua said measures should be put in place to make it more accountable. She stressed that performance contracts alone were not enough and that other systems were required to hold such institutions liable.

“Is it enough to have an independent judiciary without measures of accountability?” she posed.

“Experience has showed us that even an independent judiciary can fail to deliver if there are no mechanisms of measuring or holding it accountable.”

The three-day conference being held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre revolves around African democracy and issues of constitutionalism.

It is being attended by local and international lawyers, constitution experts, Cabinet Members, and Members of Parliament among others.

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