MOMBASA, Kenya, Sept 2 – A two-day forum for political parties on the constitution review process opened in Mombasa on Wednesday with the Committee of Experts expressing optimism that the process would be complete on schedule.
The Committee is hosting political parties at a South Coast resort to discuss the contentious constitutional issues, including what system of government the country should adopt.
"I have no doubt that Kenyans would have a new constitution soonest irrespective of whatever the political positions some individuals have taken in the exercise," Chairman Nzamba Kitonga assured.
The meeting seeks to study proposals on key contentious issues including the form of government and the shape of devolution as presented by the parties.
Safina leader Paul Muite said his party would use the retreat to oppose the establishment of a hybrid system of governance that incorporates a parliamentary and presidential system.
“Kenyans must be told the truth because talk of a hybrid system is most likely to balkanise the country and entrench ethnic blocks. If the decision is for us to go for a parliamentary system, then let it be a pure parliamentary system and the same for a presidential system,” he said.
Mr Kitonga said he was sure that his committee would overcome such differences among political parties.
Mr Kitonga said: “It is now less than a mile before Kenya attains a new constitution since some of the contentious issues such as devolution appear to be resolvable at least in principle.”
He urged the 94 delegates attending the retreat to try and bridge their differences to ensure the quick delivery of a new constitution.
“We are currently facing a major challenge of reconciling the diverse minds of political views on the constitution. I urge all political parties to go an extra mile and help the country to attain a new constitution,” Mr Kitonga said.
He said the quest for a new law was spearheaded by political parties and noted that it was therefore ironical that the same parties were now frustrating the process.
"The political class had engineered and re-engineered themselves since 2002. Everything went wrong after the government was defeated during the referendum exercise which led to a fall out between the coalition partners in Narc government,” he said.
Prof Kivutha Kibwana and Miguna Miguna, respective advisors for President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga also used the retreat to deny interfering with the work of the committee.
Parliamentary Select Committee chairman on the Review process Abdikadir Mohamed last week said that there were incidents of interference with the work of the committee from the Office of the President and that of the Prime Minister.