, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – The making of a new constitution has now shifted to Parliament after the Committee of Experts on the constitution (CoE) handed over a refined draft with minor changes to MPs.
The Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution review received the document with a promise to ‘carry into Parliament the spirit of consensus building’ that has so far guided the process.
In the new document the experts restored restricted legislative functions to the senate as it will now debate and approve Bills relating to the counties and the impeachment of the President and his Vice President.
Further, the experts have reinstated the requirement to vet all judges but gave a provision that Parliament shall within one year of the new law enact a legislation to outline clear mechanisms and procedures.
“Our role is to complement your roles by bringing to your attention matters that may easily be lost in the politics of the day,” said CoE Chairman Nzamba Kitonga while defending the changes.
“The Public must avoid the perception that in deviating from some of your decisions, albeit in minor ways there is a conflict between your committee and ours.”
The experts retained the much of the original Bill of Rights that the PSC was accused of diluting. They have also reinstated a provision to create a Commission of the Implementation of the Constitution to guide the enactment of the new law and reintroduced the Commission of Revenue Allocation.
The team on the other hand retained the Presidential system, a two tier devolution and outlawed abortion. The debate on abortion has been rife since the release of the Naivasha document with pro-choice campaigners saying the definition of life should not entrenched in the constitution.
While receiving the draft, PSC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed promised that his team would remain united in pushing for its adoption in the house. He exuded confidence that that the house was ‘up to the task’ of delivering a new constitution to the country on time.
“I assure you that we will conclude the remainder of the process as successfully as we have completed the rest of the process,” he said.
Vice Chairman Ababu Namwamba also expressed confidence that the debate in the House would remain cordial and fruitful.
“The spirit of consensus building, the spirit of forgetting our differences and hoisting the nation above everything else will continue to guide us,” he stated.
The PSC now has one week to submit the draft to Parliament for debate and adoption. The House will debate the law for 30 days before passing a vote. MPs can only alter the draft by a two thirds majority.
The House was recalled a month ahead of schedule to debate the new law. While officiating the 4th session of the Tenth Parliament, President Mwai Kibaki urged parliamentarians to rise to the occasion and give the nation the much awaited law.