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Minority groups support draft law

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 16 – A group representing women, youth, people with disabilities and minorities have all expressed support for the draft constitution although they have cautioned politicians against politicising the process.

The groups met under the banner of Center for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) where they said the political class should not be allowed to derail the review process. Paddy Onyango who spoke on behalf of persons with disabilities said politicians’ interference in the constitutional review process would hamper the process and facilitate tribal conflicts in the near future.

“We are sad that like politicians have done in the past, their disagreements are beginning to stand in the way of having a new constitution. They have forgotten so soon what happened to the country. It appears to us that they want to create an opportunity where they make ordinary Kenyans maim and rape each other,” he said.  

CMD Chairman Prof Larry Gumbe also proposed that the constitution puts in place efficient checks and balances that would ensure Kenyans’ democratic needs were protected for.

“How can a Member of Parliament, a university graduate, tell us that they want devolution and at the same time they want us to maintain the Provincial Administration? Is that not contradictory? We must interrogate this whole system,” he said.

The groups however faulted the draft with various proposals. Those with disabilities called on the Committee of Experts to delete the definition of disability in its entirety saying it was discriminatory.

“Persons with disabilities include those who have long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with attitudinal and environmental barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others and the term ‘disability’ shall be construed accordingly,” they said.

The youth proposed that an independent youth commission be established with nine commissioners comprising of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of either gender or at least one commissioner with a disability.

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“Youth affairs affect a huge part of the Kenyan citizenry and thus need a constitutional commission to deal with. The draft does not provide for any such mechanism for implementing article 40 (2) and other articles relevant to the youth,” said Isaac Mwaura who was representing the youth.

The groups also took issue with the proposed devolution of government with the minorities (who were being represented by Ibrahim Gallo) saying that article 216 be amended to include one out of three delegates elected to the county consisting of representatives from the minorities.

“We also propose that the Harmonised Draft Constitution sets criteria to be considered in the creation of regions into which Kenya is divided. It should consider historical, cultural, social, economic and population factors. We also propose that Eastern province be split into two; the Upper Eastern region and the Lower Eastern region,” he said.

Women called on the CoE to ensure that all clauses of the draft that supported human rights were maintained in the draft.

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