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Electoral reform meet opens in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has challenged delegates attending Wednesday’s  constitutional reform conference in Nairobi to deliberate ways of containing negative ethnicity in African democracies.

He observed that the effects of tribal politics frustrated efforts to instil sound democratic practices in most African states citing the 2007 general polls in Kenya, whose disputed outcome sparked ethnic related violence.

The Premier said the tribal tag was chocking the transitional process of young democracies from fully developing from a single to multi party rule as the voting patterns of natives have remained inclined to respective ethnic enclaves.

Mr Odinga posed the challenge at his office when a team of internationally acclaimed scholars on constitutional issues paid him a courtesy call ahead of the conference at which delegates are expected to share their experiences.

"We want the experts to shed some light on their experience and chip in with input that could help the country pull through this constitutional debacle because ethnic interest have always derailed the process," he said.

The PM said the reforms were vital in inculcating a level playing field in the electoral process especially now that most countries had embraced democratic ideals and held periodical polls but were yet to attain the desired standards.

He said the Kenyan example was further complicated by the fact that the governance system was neither Presidential nor Parliamentary thereby creating conflict between the Executive and the Legislature.

Mr Odinga told the reputed commissioners from Ghana, India, Canada and South Africa to ponder over such issues during the plenary since similar hitches dogged the constitutional making despite the fact that it "was one of the most consultative document. "

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He said the Executive, the Legislature and the devolution clauses in the zero draft polarised the nation during the 2005 constitutional referendum which saw the rejection of the document altogether.

Also present during the session with the experts were deputy premier Musalia Mudavadi, Cabinet Ministers Mutula Kilonzo, Dalmas Otieno, Mohamed Elmi and assistant minister Alfred Khangati among other others.

Also present was the chairman of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission Hassan Issack and his counterpart at the Interim Independent Boundaries Commission Andrew Ligale.

Foreign experts attending the conference included the chair of South African Electoral commissioner Dr Brigalia Bam, Ghanaian electoral vice chairman David Adeenzi , Indian Election director Dr. Mrutyunjay Saranga and Canadian scholar Prof John Courtey.


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