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Lobby faults MPs over draft law

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 17- The Center for Multiparty Democracy Kenya (CDM-K) now says the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review overstepped its mandate and mutilated the Harmonised Draft Constitution.

CMD-K Chair Larry Gumbe which says the PSC watered down the Bill of Rights from the draft is now demanding that it be restored before Parliament makes its final decision on the draft.

“The PSC veered off and discussed things they were not supposed to discuss coming up with a draft which is a complete and total disaster which if implemented would mess us up,” he said.

Prof Gumbe added that the PSC’s decision to have the Bill of Rights withdrawn from the draft was out of tandem and that it would take action if the Bill was not re-included in the draft.

 “We shall for sure mobilise Kenyans to carry out a programme of mass action on the Bill of Rights until this chapter is restored without amendments; not even a comma. The Bill of Rights is a non negotiable chapter and the PSC was out of order to touch that chapter,” he said.

He also added that Kenya should get a leaner National Assembly on the basis of Mixed Member Proportionate Representation (MMPR) system and that the Senate be reinstated as the Upper House.

“The current 210 parliamentary constituencies should be maintained. Women elected from 47 counties should add to this to make the seats total to 257. An extra 43 seats should be filled through the party lists to cover the youth, workers, persons with disabilities, minority communities, women and Kenyans in the Diaspora,” he said adding that the 47 women seats from the counties be retained for three consecutive elections commencing 2012.

“Parliament shall consider what other measures may be taken to ensure that Parliament has no more than two thirds of one gender in Parliament after the expiry of the 20 year period.”

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Prof Gumbe also asked the government to educate the masses on the draft constitution before the referendum and also force Kenyans to vote on it saying it would reduce cases of corruption.

“Civic education should be done for at least three months before the referendum so that people are briefed on what is going on in the referendum. And we are recommending that in line with what happens in Australia and other places, voting should be made compulsory because we feel that if voting is not compulsory people will be induced by bribes and so on. If they must go there by law anyway then bribery will be reduced,” he said.

“A President who nominates his own ministers and sits with them in Parliament needs to have enough checks and balances. The Senate should be properly elaborated in the Constitution. It should be chaired by the Vice President and shall have the mandate of undertaking impeachment procedures whenever they occur,” he said.

Prof Gumbe also proposed that the Committee of Experts restores the MMPR system so that a more proportionate electoral system was put in place. He explained that through a compensatory system each political party would get seats equal to the votes cast for that party in the elections. Under MMPR, he explained, it would be irrelevant to increase the current geographical constituencies. 

On devolution CMD-K called for at least 30 percent of the national resources be devolved to the counties and that the Provincial Administration be merged under the County governments with immediate effect.

“We should not as a country develop cold feet. The CDF funds as part of the 30 percent should be administered by the County governments and not the MPs-controlled committees,” he said.

The organisation also asked the CoE to restore the land chapter as was to ensure that the National Land commission was entrenched in the constitution saying the issue of land was emotive.

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