NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has asked the Muslim community in the country to support the reform agenda saying it was the best way to deal with past injustices.
Addressing a delegation of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) at his Treasury office on Thursday, the Prime Minister pointed out that the reform agenda would deal with marginalisation, oppressive laws and other historical injustices visited on the community and other groups in the country.
The Prime Minister emphasised that the reforms were aimed at giving equal opportunities to all Kenyans irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or status in the society.
“It is for this reason that we devolved funds to the grassroots level. We want people to make the decisions in all their development needs from the grassroots,” He said.
He cited regulations that tended to discriminate issuance of national identity cards or passports to Muslims and other border tribes as unnecessary saying the requirement that those applying for the documents must produce their grandparents’ birth certificates should be discarded.
On the Kadhi’s court, Mr Odinga criticised people who were using the issue of the courts in the new constitution to scuttle the constitution making process.
Noting that the Kadhi’s courts have been in the country’s constitution since independence, the PM wondered why their inclusion in the new constitution would generate acrimony.
He said Muslims in the country like any other Kenyans are subjected to the country’s laws and the presence of the Kadhi’s courts in the constitution would not give them any special status over Kenyans of other religious faiths.
“This matter should not be left to incite religious animosity in the country nor stand in the way of a referendum and the realization of a new constitution.” “You will even notice that many those making it an issue are not even Christians, “he added.
The delegation which was led by chairman of the SUPKEM Prof Abdulghafur EL-Busaidy expressed their confidence in the Prime Minister saying his acceptance to form a coalition government with his then political opponents at the height of the post election violence was magnanimous.
“We applaud you for the initiative of cohesively bringing Kenyans together and ending election related violence last year,” they said.
Prof El Busaidy said SUPKEM was working to complement the government in empowering the people noting that through the organization 200 medical doctors and 60 engineers had been trained and were actively serving the people.
He went on to say that SUPKEM would work with anybody who wants to bring progress adding the organization had build schools all the country that are benefitting all Kenyans irrespective of their religion.
The Prime Minister lauded them for their work noting they had been positively involved in many national issues including the constitutional making process where SUPKEM leaders have made important contributions.
He promised to take up with the relevant authority the issue of land rates levied on SUPKEM’s Islamia House in Nairobi running into millions of shillings with a view to having it waived.
SUPKEM’s Secretary General Adan Wachu also spoke at the meeting.