Kenyans response to draft overwhelming

November 26, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 26 – The Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review (CoE) has said it is pleased that Kenyans had showed a lot of interest in the draft Constitution with many people and groups taking part in the process.

A member of the Committee Bobby Mkangi told Capital News that unlike in 2005, this time around Kenyans had showed more inquisitiveness in the Constitution and also had taken the time to participate in the entire process by questioning as well as giving their opinions.

“The response is quite commendable.  We are monitoring through our website, our facebook link; we are also receiving written memoranda,  there are very many groups telling us they are organising meetings, caucuses and will soon send their memoranda,” he said.

He further said the committee had so far received many submissions from Kenyans just eight days after the launch of the draft.

He encouraged people and groups to continue giving their views to ensure they achieve desired satisfaction from the draft. The lawyer agreed that CoE was however facing distribution challenges since many Kenyans were yet to receive a copy of the draft.

But he said the team was working hard to ensure more Kenyans get the copies on time, with delivery of draft to all provincial headquarters in the country last Tuesday.

He out ruled the possibility of having two drafts during the referendum saying it was important for the country to negotiate and reach a consensus.

He said constitutions are negotiated documents and having two drafts would mean no consensus will have been reached, a possibility that the country will be left divided.

“The fear is that if we have two then we are throwing away the window of opportunity of negotiating the document. Anywhere in the world constitutions are negotiated documents, why is it that Kenyans are the only people in this entire globe that cannot agree?” he wondered.

He said also having two drafts meant that there was no commitment to reach out to all Kenyans. He urged Kenyans to approach the draft in the spirit of unity and agree on a common ground.

“It will be of better value for us if we sit in the spirit of give and take, building consensus. If we go Yes and Yes, imagine how the campaign period will be; it will be absent of the need for brother and sister to embrace each other.”

He said if Kenyans felt they will not have had enough time to read the constitution by the expiry of 30 days, MPs can introduce an amendment to allow for an extension.

He said only Parliament had the power to change the statute which dictates the period to scrutinise the draft. “If there are quotas who feel there should be extension, amending the 30 days is possible, the period is mandatory because the law says so,” he said.

He stressed that extending the deadline would interfere with the time given to the committee to do its work.

He also said the time was limited to the 30 days because what is contained in the new draft was heavily borrowed from previous constitutional processes and also the fact that the country has for a long time determinedly waited for a new Constitution.


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