Kibaki: Disbanding ECK bad idea

October 20, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, October 20- President Mwai Kibaki has cautioned against disbanding the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) saying it would be a bad idea.

In his Kenyatta Day speech on Monday, the Head of State warned that Kenyans would be treading on a dangerous course by using their freedoms to belittle those in authority and tarnishing their reputations.

“The pursuit of freedom and liberty without respect for institutions, law and order is a dangerous path for any country,” the President added.

He instead called for the strengthening of governance and civic institutions that are perceived to be weak and the replacement of people heading them.

“If those managing them (institutions) are not capable, we can change them.  But, we must never adopt the practice of tearing down institutions without due regard to what will fill the vacuum they leave,” he warned.

The President pledged to implement the Kriegler and Waki reports which would also be reflected in the new constitution.

He pointed out that although Kenyans had come a long way and attained democratic space, they should not forget to uphold the laws of the land. He emphasised that freedoms and liberties are not absolute and urged the public to use them in a positive and productive manner.

“Freedom is one side of a coin whose other side is responsibility. Your freedom ends where the freedoms of your fellow citizens begin,” he advised.

The Head of State promised that the new constitution was ‘within reach’ and added that its implementation presented an opportunity for the Grand Coalition to provide Kenyans and their future generations with the legacy of a sound and durable constitutional and legal framework.

Also present was Prime Minister Raila Odinga who called for thorough and urgent reforms in the country’s governance systems.

He added that although the Kriegler and Waki reports had made extensive recommendations on how to permanently end the cycle of violence and impunity, the findings just confirmed the shortcomings in the institutions.

“The commissions’ findings are not new to us. They merely confirmed, in very painful, graphic detail, what we know happened and has been happening. We know where things have gone wrong,” he said while acknowledging that implementing functional national institutions would not be easy.

Mr Odinga also maintained that those responsible for the post election chaos would be held accountable and that reparation would be made.

“Kenyans will not stop demanding justice – justice that will end decades of impunity, where powerful cliques have been at liberty to use the country as their plaything,” he stressed.

He said while the country could no longer afford to postpone reforms like it had done for 45 years, and needed to focus on key issues such as constitutional review, human rights and on the equitable distribution of resources.

“Parliament must therefore act on the two draft Bills currently before the House – the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, and the Constitution of Kenya Review Bill – before it goes into its Christmas recess,” he added.

The Prime Minister said by carrying out all the mentioned reforms, Kenyans could help realise the dream of a society free of ignorance, poverty and disease and where equality and justice are upheld as envisaged by the country’s forefathers.

“We are still struggling today to realise that dream, and until we have done so, our struggle will not cease,” he cautioned.



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