, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 23 – Kenya’s two-decade search for a new Constitution inched closer on Tuesday as Members of Parliament begun critical debate on the proposed law.
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review (PSC) Abdikadir Mohammed initiated debate on the Motion and hailed the watertight law guiding the review.
Mr Mohammed praised the document and surmised that it would ensure good governance and justice for all. He mentioned the chapters on the system of government, Judiciary, Devolution, Bill of Rights and Citizenship as well structured to institute the necessary reforms that Kenyans yearn for.
“We have a good document before this House Mr Speaker. It is miles apart with the present document that is ruling,” he said. “This House has the ability to be remembered as the Parliament that ushered in a new constitutional order in this country.”
Seconding the Motion, PSC Vice Chairman Ababu Namwamba challenged the MPs to take up their responsibility with esteem and cautioned them that they had no power to stop the process.
“If we choose not to approve this draft we shall give the responsibility to the interest group to make the critical final decisions,” he said.
The MPs have until Thursday next week to adopt the document with or without amendments. if the draft is passed without amendments, it will go to the AG for publication. If amendments are made, it will be sent back to the Committee of Experts who will incorporate them.
Gichugu MP Martha Karua was the first to support the debate saying “this Constitution is supposed to give a rebirth to this country. It is supported to ensure a rebirth of the Judiciary.”
She however proposed that the Committee of Experts and the Attorney General edit the clause on life and replace the term abortion.
Speaker Kenneth Marende had earlier given directions on the format the debate was to take stating that it would start with general provisions while proposed amendments would be considered from Thursday this week.
Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto had however delayed debate questioning whether the document constitutes the views of Kenyans. Mr Ruto doubted that the document could be treated as a representative draft since it is largely a product of the seven-member Committee of Experts.
“There has not been a representative debate on this document,” he argued.
Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale dismissed Mr Ruto’s assertion as “attempts to help MPs who want to mutilate the document.”
“This is not a simple report. Everybody knows it is constitutional matter,” added Garsen MP Danson Mungatana.
Coalition partners PNU and ODM went into the debate a divided lot locking horns over devolution as provided in the Proposed constitution.
Two separate meetings of the parties held early on Tuesday resolved to uphold the party positions on the floor of the House.
ODM agreed to push for a three tier devolution comprising the National government, regions and the Counties.
Secretary General Anyang\’ Nyongo said the party wanted 25 regions with 74 to 80 counties.
A high level PNU consultative group meeting resolved to stick to two tiers of government as proposed in the draft, but to build consensus by increasing Counties to 80 to carry along minorities.
The draft by the CoE settles on two levels of devolution with 47 counties.