, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Central Imenti Member of Parliament Gitobu Imanyara now says the Kabete retreat that debated the proposed Constitution was a breach of the mandate given to Parliament by Kenyans.
He maintained that the retreat was illegal and could betray the principles laid out to them in the Constitution making process.
“MPs are being held hostage by their party leaders; by the people out there who want to influence the process in a way designed to cater for their interests in 2012. We are not making a Constitution for 2012 but we are making a Constitution for 3012 and beyond,” he said.
Mr Imanyara also explained that it was wrong for MPs to debate the Constitution away from the public eye as it would take Kenyans back to the one party era where the public’s access to vital information was hampered. He emphasised that any debate on the same should be done in an open and transparent manner away from private ‘kamukunjis’.
“We deliberately did away with the practice that had evolved in the one party KANU era of cajoling, intimidating and blackmailing MPs into rubberstamping decisions that were made by powerful political figures. The only reason why MPs will want to sit in seclusion away from public glare is because what they want to rubberstamp into law is unpopular,” he said and asked Kenyans to reject such backroom dealings.
“Secret sessions are prone to arm twisting and backroom deals that serve parochial ethnic interests.”
He said that the hard stances taken by both sides of the political divide over the controversial issues of the Constitution were derailing the process instead of facilitating it.
“We have time as Parliament to discuss the document; we can even do it in three days but this retreat invites unnecessary delays and sideshows which may very well lead to the courts and therefore delay the process even further. That is why I am not participating in it,” he said and added that the reason why Parliament passed the Constitution of Kenya Review Act was because MPs would not be able to agree on what Kenyans wanted.
“And that is why we formed the Committee of Experts (CoE) in order for them to go directly to Kenyans and tell us what they have come up with.”
Mr Imanyara also added that the constitution review process called for collective bargaining and would only be complete through comprehensive input from the CoE, the Parliamentary Select Committee, Parliament and the referendum.
“Each of these organs has its own statutory mandate. Under Section 47 of the Constitution our (Parliament’s) only role is to debate the proposed Constitution in public and send to the Attorney General the proposed Constitution with the amendments that meet the approval of 65 percent of the Members of Parliament. Of course no such approval would be given except pursuant to these backroom deals that do not represent the will of the people of Kenya,” he said.
He also stated that what Kenyans had proposed was best known to the Committee of Experts and not to Parliament further emphasising that they did not know what Kenyans’ opinions on the proposed Constitution were.
“The majority of members have in fact very publicly owned up to the fact that they have not even read the proposed Constitution and that is why they need to be taken through it clause by clause. It is an act of usurpation, an act of exercising pretended authority for us Members of Parliament to go into retreat to purport to do what has already been done by the Committee of Experts. The CoE received more than one million submissions from the public. It is the Committee therefore that is best placed to know what the people of Kenya want,” he said.