Kenyans urged to critique new draft law

November 13, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 13 – Former Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC) Chairman Professor Yash Pal Ghai is calling for greater public participation once the harmonised draft Constitution is released next Tuesday.

During a public forum on constitutional review, Prof Ghai urged Kenyans to ensure their views are taken into account and not to let politicians hijack the process.

“If you are happy with the draft you can’t just go back to work, have a cup of coffee or go on holiday. You must say to the Committee of Experts well done you have done a good job. We want this Constitution so that they are able to say that 80 percent of people who talked to us like this constitution and if it is terrible say the same,” he said.

He called on Non-Governmental Organisations and civil society groups to partner with the Committee of Experts (CoE) in carrying an extensive voter and civic education campaign that will inform the citizenry on the contents of the draft.

“This is the only time you have to change the system of the Constitution and reinforce because then it will go to the politicians and you know what they can do,” he said.

He wants Kenyans to thoroughly scrutinise the entire draft document instead of only focusing on contentious issues.

“The Constitution is not only about the system of government or devolution of power.  Look at matters that ensure cohesion and unity of the nation such as the Bill of rights, Kadhi’s Courts among others,” said the credited constitution expert.

The CoE is proposing a devolved government structure where the national government will have a Parliament with two chambers. The National Assembly will be the centre of power as it will be responsible for the appointment of a Prime Minister, who will be Head of Government.

At the same time, Professor Ghai dismissed the hybrid system of government as a great disservice to budding democracies.

Kenya and Zimbabwe are currently using the system as a transitional mechanism while they try to fix constitutional and institutional reforms following post election disputes.

“I know that hybrid system has become the fashion, and it is a great disservice and the international community I am afraid is contributing to this. It’s a quick fix. It doesn’t offer you a solution to you fundamental problems,” he said.

The much awaited harmonised draft Constitution will be released to the public next Tuesday.

The Committee of Experts on the Constitution Review has confirmed that the document will be released to the public at 10am at the KICC.

After it is made public, Kenyans will be given 30 days to scrutinise the draft and suggest amendments.

The document will then be handed over to MPs, triggering a series of activities that will, hopefully, give Kenyans a new set of laws by June next year.


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