NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21 – President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday rallied Parliament towards the reforms agenda and urged legislators to support government efforts on the same.
While opening the third session of Parliament, the President outlined poverty, food security, crime, land ownership, equitable development and unemployment as key areas that needed urgent attention. He enlisted the support of members in enacting laws that would help address these issues and promised that the Executive was committed on developing policies towards this end.
“Addressing these issues will be a step forward in a bid to ensure peace, security, prosperity and stability in our country. Indeed most of the Bills and policies to be tabled in this session will deal with these matters,” he said.
The Head of State cited land policy, integrated transport policy, trade policy, national disaster policy, industrialisation policy and the food security and nutrition policy as key in addressing the above problems. Others are the business and incubation policy, cooperative policy, arid and semi arid policy, tourism policy and livestock policy.
Towards food security, the President said the government would be seeking to strengthen irrigation as a way of increasing food production in the country. He said they will establish new irrigation schemes.
The Head of State reiterated that the government was committed to carrying out reforms in the Judiciary, which he said would support the expeditious delivery of justice and the fight against corruption. The government, he said, had approved the hiring of more judges to match the case load.
“There will also be a much higher budget allocation to cater for additional staff and case requirements,” he added.
Bills and policies lined up to bring change in the justice sector include; the National Human Rights policy, the Legal Education policy, Judicial Services Bill, the Small Claims Bill, Legal Education and Counsel, and the Law Reform Bill. He however cautioned that the reform agenda must be guided by the Constitution.
The Head of State exerted that the House would be required to complete the processes of forming the Interim Independent Electoral Commission, the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and the Ethnic Relations Commission.
President Kibaki said that the Executive would reintroduce the Bill to establish a special tribunal to try suspects of the 2007 post election violence.
“The government will expand consultations with the view to reformulate the establishment of a local tribunal,” he said.
On his part, House Speaker Kenneth Marende challenged parliamentarians to put aside petty politics and prioritise national interest. Mr Marende referred the MPs to criticism from citizens much of which he said was justified.
“We must move away from sideshows, small talk and stop hitting below the belt to gain unfair advantage or (to) start fresh battles,” he said.
The speaker rallied MPs to spearhead reforms, especially in the Police, Judiciary and the land sectors. He called for good working relations between the Legislature and the Executive.