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Lame duck President irks Kenyans

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 17- The PNU Coalition has reaffirmed its opposition to proposals for a non-executive President, stressing that it does not reflect the wishes of Kenyans.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said that the party would push for a President who is directly elected by the electorate.

The harmonised draft which was released on Tuesday, has proposed a State President who will be Head of State and an executive Prime Minister as Head of Government.

“The contention here is … Kenyans having elected their national leaders will they then hand over to the PM?” he posed.

 The Council Secretary of the Party of National Unity George Nyamweya said they would use the 30- day period to seek consensus on the controversial issues.

“We have quite a number of hurdles to cover – the Executive; the devolved governments and the provincial administration,” he said and added: “You cannot just begin to imagine that you can run a whole country without administrators, yet they have very different roles.  Some of these have to be rethought and rectified.”

At the same time, diplomats are urging President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to spearhead the resolution of contentious issues to ensure the country gets a new Constitution.

US ambassador Michael Ranneberger said: “On behalf of the highest levels of my government, I want to urge the President and the PM to come together and resolve any of the remaining contentious issues particularly with respect to the structure of executive power.”

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“I believe it is in the best interest of Kenyans if the referendum has broad support than be divisive.”

British High Commissioner Robert Macaire urged Kenyans to use the period to express their views on the draft and guard the process from being hijacked by politicians.

“It is a moment of truth because now the responsibility falls on political leadership to show they can debate this draft and show the way and not to seek to push a particular version of a Constitution.”

Meanwhile, MPs are appealing for tolerance and national unity as the build up to a new constitutional order gathers momentum.  Garsen MP Danson Mungatana said Kenyans must be allowed to discuss the draft without being influenced to vote by political parties.

“We would urge that we have negotiated positions, lets not start from the position of my side must win and yours must lose.”

Eldoret East MP Margaret Kamar on her part said a caucus of MPs championing reforms would assist Kenyans at the grassroots to understand some of the crucial issues in the draft.

“Constitution making process is not a competition, we really do appeal that Kenyans take this process seriously and that we should not bring any partisan interests,” she said.

Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Chairman Okong’o Omogeni said the proposal to increase the period police can hold a suspect in custody was unjustifiable. Currently police can hold a suspect for 24 hours but this has been increased to 48 hours in the harmonised draft.

The LSK backs proposed judicial reforms saying it gives the members of the public an avenue to launch complaints against particular judicial officers.

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