NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 31 – The Committee of Experts on Constitution review on Monday dismissed reports of a secret draft constitution and maintained that it was not involved in any underhand deals in the process of rewriting Kenya’s supreme law.
Chairman Nzamba Kitonga said that a harmonised draft constitution will be published after they finish consultations with political parties which will be subjected to public debate before being submitted to a referendum.
“It is important for Kenyans to understand that there can be no secret constitution or secret draft. This does not hold water because the draft will eventually have to go back to the public to discuss and criticise for 30 days and eventually to referendum,” he said.
Vice Chairperson Atsango Chesoni said those criticising the review committee were misleading Kenyans. She insisted that their mandate is to study all previous drafts submitted by the defunct Constitution of Kenya Review Commission
“Some of the discussions that we are hearing are bizarre, it’s a contradiction; you are asking us not to do what we are supposed to be doing! You gave us a job and then you are accusing us of secretly doing it?”
Section 30 of the Constitution of Kenya Review Act says the Committee should study all draft constitutions, collect and collate Kenyans’ views and study documents reflecting political agreement to identify contentious issues.
Committee member Otiende Omollo added: “You cannot have a secret of four million Kenyans, just rest assured that their will be nothing secret.”
They were responding to allegations by politicians who claim the committee has taken a position on the system of government.
The Committee denied that differences among the team were affecting the review process. "All its members and secretariat are working harmoniously,” they said in a statement.
Prof Christina Murray who is a member of the committee and also participated in the South African process conceded that they have had differences of opinion but added that they had been addressed.
Meanwhile the committee is to hold consultations with representatives of political parties on Wednesday and Thursday in Mombasa to gather their views on the constitution review.
Mr Kitonga said each of the 47 invited parties has been asked to send only two representatives to the UNDP-funded retreat.
“The retreat is intended to discuss and interrogate further the proposals presented by the political parties in the context of addressing contentious issues. Each party is required to send two delegates and no more; we have been made aware that some parties are offering to pay for bigger delegation but we want only two,” he said.
The meeting with the parties is crucial to the process as the two coalition partners are divided on whether to adopt a parliamentary or presidential system of government.