NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 29 – The government is assuring Kenyans that it will put in an extra effort to beat roadblocks to a new Constitution and ensure the new law satisfies a majority of the population.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo told Capital News that he would engage those aggrieved by the harmonised draft to gain consensus especially from Church leaders over the Kadhi courts.
Mr Kilonzo moved to allay fears of a second failed referendum saying Christians have another opportunity to present their case before the Parliamentary Select Committee once the draft is published.
“After the draft is published there will be 30 days for the PSC to look at it and make recommendations. As a member of the committee I promise you we will give the Christians the kind of hearing they might not have received from the committee of experts (CoE),” he said.
The experts are currently at a resort in Kilaguni finalising the harmonised draft Constitution. Mr Kilonzo said the draft was expected in 10 days when scrutinising begins. Christians have threatened to mobilise support to reject the new Constitution should it include the contentious Kadhi courts. Whereas Christians have been vocal on the matter Muslims have stayed clear of the controversy.
The experts had identified the system of government to be adopted, level of devolution and the clauses on transition as the contentious issues. Entrenchment of Kadhi courts and electoral boundaries review have however elicited mixed reactions from the Church and politicians and threatened to scuttle the process
Mr Kilonzo said it was wrong for Christians to reject the new Constitution on the basis of the Kadhi courts since it negates considerable improvements made on other key issues.
“A lot of the principles that come with the new law will cover governance. There will be serious issues pertaining to the judiciary, police force, environment and gender just to name a few,” he said.
After the lapse of 30 days the CoE will take on board the recommendations of the PSC. Kenyans are expected to go to a referendum to decide the fate of the new law thereafter. Pentecostal Bishops have threatened to mobilise their members to reject the draft should it include the Kadhi courts.
The Minister warned politicians from tying the realisation of the new law on new constituency boundaries. He urged them to present their views to the Interim Independent Boundaries Commission without threats and ultimatums.
“We already have a formula that accommodates both the population density and geographical vastness. Some of the demands being made out there are way apart from these principles,” he said.