NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 19 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua on Thursday assured Kenyans that the constitutional review process would be all inclusive.,
Speaking at a consultative meeting with members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Ms Karua said the government would re-introduce a list of members of the reference groups on contentious issues like land, religion and devolution of power among others.
“After negotiations led by the Parliamentary Committee on the Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs it was agreed that the list be returned. We are therefore, as government, going to publish the return of the schedule in the Statute Law Miscellaneous Amendment Bill,” she said.
The section had been removed after it elicited controversy over the composition of the reference groups, prompting fears that it might lead to the rejection of the Act.
She said although the reference groups come at the end of the review process it would be helpful for the committee of experts to know the organisations forming such groups so that they can be consulted.
She further urged Kenyans to guard against manipulation of the review process by politicians out to score cheap points and scuttle the process.
“Last time we were dishonest in the way we reasoned. If you remember some of the disagreements in the last process were informed by pure propaganda and outright misrepresentation and clear falsehoods,” she said.
At the same time, the Justice Minister challenged the private sector to audit the government on its process towards the delivery of a new constitution.
“I have views like any other Kenyan but there are so many people with interests in future big positions including all parliamentarians who will be defending their seats, the councilors including you who may hope to come in so what we must watch out for is we cant miss people with interest,” Ms Karua said.
She said the government would only play a facilitative role in the constitution-making process and urged the civil society and private sector to play a key role in the civic education to ensure Kenyans understand the draft constitution that the team of experts will come up with.
She further cautioned politicians and other interest groups against interfering with the work of the committee of experts.
“In Bomas, we refused expert advice. Each one wanted to be a jack of all trades. People insisted on what they thought they wanted to go into the constitution; this is now an expert led process. Shall we begin respecting professionalism? Let us allow the experts’ package what we agree on,” she said.
Ms Karua said she had made a personal decision against making public statements on what she would like to see when the constitution comes to fruition.
“I have so far managed to resist giving my view on any form of government whether presidential or parliamentary and it is deliberate not to be seen to be pre-empting,” she said.