NAIROBI, August 22 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga Friday objected to the idea of seeking the public’s views on a new constitution before subjecting it to a referendum.
Speaking at the closure of the Regional Conference on Constitutional Democracy, Odinga said a team of experts should be appointed to work on the contentious issues that led to the collapse of the previous constitutional talks.
“Kenyans forget very easily. You will be told you must be involved, expand this and involve more people, how long are we going to be involving people in constitution making, what are the new ideas that we will get that we did not get in Bomas?” he wondered.
Odinga noted that Devolution and Executive authority were the main contentious issues in the Bomas and the Kilifi drafts.
Land and religion were part of the disagreement but in a trivial manner, he said.
The PM said the team of experts should use the drafts and work on the few issues to find consensus without dwelling on what was already agreed on.
Raila expressed his confidence that there was the political will from both sides of the coalition government to complete the process adding that there will be no major divisions since the coalition was progressing well.
“One of the issues that was dividing the people was whether to have an executive President or an executive Prime Minister. We now have a President and a Prime Minister and the system is working,” he said.
Attorney General Amos Wako, in his closing remarks, described the road to a new constitution which began about 20 years ago as bumpy and discouraging but said he finally could see some light at the end of the tunnel.
“Now more than ever before, I am confident that my optimism that we shall have a new constitution is not misplaced, because the people of Kenya have undergone a rough experience of the post election violence,” he said.
“This has registered in the minds of Kenyans that we cannot, like before, take peace for granted and what has taken years to build can be destroyed in a day.”
He also noted that a new constitution was a legacy that the grand coalition government could give to Kenyans saying failure to do so would render it unsuccessful.
During the deliberations of the three-day conference at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, delegates intensively discussed issues around constitution making in regard to justice and democracy.
Recommendations such as approaching the process in view of national unity to lock out tribalism and ethnicity emerged as top of considerations and a benchmark for peace and reconciliation.
Others are inclusiveness, equal representation, issues of devolution and federalism, respect for law, local and international values and protection of the economy.