Fresh demand on Constitution

November 26, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, November 26 – The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) has petitioned President Mwai Kibaki not to assent to the Constitution of Kenya Review Bill 2008.

Together with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the council said the Bill had left constitution entirely to the politicians, since Members of Parliament deleted a clause which would have seen interested stakeholders included in the process.

SUPKEM Chairman Professor Abdulghafur El-Busaidy told a news conference that it was crucial that interested groups engage with the Committee of Experts, which is to oversee the process on contentious issues, such as the governance system and the Kadhi’s Court.

“The constitution making process must be consultative and participatory to ensure legitimacy. The President should therefore return the Bill to Parliament with a memorandum recommending amendments to the Bill,” Prof El-Busaidy said.

The Constitution of Kenya Review Bill 2008 – which sets out the road map for completion of the process that began more than 15 years ago – was passed by Parliament at the beginning of this month.  President Kibaki indicated that he would soon sign it to law during a recent seminar on National Reconciliation and Institutional Reforms.

Acting ICJ Director Priscilla Nyokabi said the President should also wait for the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill which is before Parliament to be passed, before he assents to the Constitution of Kenya Review Bill.

Ms Nyokabi stated that the Constitution of Kenya Review Bill cannot come into force before an amendment is made to the constitution.

“The Amendment Bill seeks to anchor the review process in the Constitution and we are of the view that both Bills are key and should be assented to or come into being at the same time,” Ms Nyokabi stated.

The organisations also took issue with the government’s declaration that the country should have a new constitution one year after the two Bills are passed.

They said constitution making is an important aspect of any society and should therefore not be rushed at the expense of having a process that was hollow and only sought to benefit the political class.



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