NAIROBI, September 9 – Justice Minister Martha Karua has said she expects two Bills setting out the roadmap for a new constitution would be passed by November.
She said the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs was scrutinising the Bills and expected them to be debated once the House resumed its sittings next month. The Bills went through the first reading before Parliament went on recess.
The two laws are the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill and the Constitution of Kenya Review Bill, 2008, which will establish the necessary organs for completion of the review process.
“When the Parliament resumes in October, the Bills should be brought back for Members of Parliament to scrutinise and pass as a matter of urgency.”
Karua who has been accused of concentrating too much on her 2012 presidential bid said she was in consultation with interested parties to deliver a new constitution at the earliest date possible.
“We have been engaging with religious groups and the civil society to harmonise views on how we should proceed. We have also been talking to the Law Society on this whole process,” Karua said.
She was speaking when she met diplomats from the European and African Union to discuss the status of the review process.
Her sentiments came shortly after Nairobi Development Metropolitan Minister Mutula Kilonzo challenged Kenyans to put pressure on politicians to ensure a new constitution was in place before the end of next year as stipulated in the National Accord Act which led to a power-sharing agreement between President Mwai Kibai and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Mutula dismissed calls for minimum reforms by a section of politicians.
The Prime Minister and other constitution experts have recently stated that it was not necessary to have comprehensive reforms and have proposed a group of professionals to deal with contentious issues that arose in the run-up to 2005 National Referendum on the proposed Draft Constitution before subjecting it to another vote.
The issues of land ownership, devolution of power and separation of powers between the President and Prime Minister were some of the thorny issues.
However, Mutula insisted that Kenyans should not settle for anything other than comprehensive reforms.
“Comprehensive reforms must be put in place to ensure that the process that Kenyans began over 10 years ago is not in vain; Kenyans must say no to temporary reforms,” he stressed.
He said that lobbying was required in order to ensure that issues under Agenda Item Four were implemented to avoid a repeat of the post-election crisis.
Mutula said it was unfortunate that some leaders had abandoned the quest for legal reforms issue and had instead launched premature campaigns for the 2012 General Election.