Kenyan MPs emerge empty handed

March 22, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Members of Parliament were set to leave a retreat in Kabete without much to show for the four-day consensus building talks on the Constitution.
The twin Chapters on devolution and representation remained the key divisive issues dogging the talks with MPs appearing to have given in to proposals by the Committee of Experts on the Constitution Review.
Insiders intimated that MPs spent much of Monday arguing whether to adopt regions or counties as the centres of devolution.
“We want the CoE draft because that is the closest we have that represents the views of the public, Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale told reporters on the sidelines of the closed-door consultations.
“Mambo ya Majimbo hatutaki hapa (We do not want federalism),” he said and added:  “We want the Committee of Experts’ proposals (on counties).”
After hours of haggling, there was a shared reluctance to adopt the 47 Counties as the centres of devolution. This was after the Orange Democratic Movement and the Party of National Unity differed on the number of counties.

While both parties agreed these should be raised from the 47 proposed by the Committee of Experts, PNU demanded they be increased to 80 while the Orange Democratic Movement said 74 was sufficient.
The theory of using the regions as the centre of devolution became ‘untenable’ as the legislators disagreed on the number and boundaries. The MPs disowned the 25 agreed last Friday with PNU pushing for an additional three regions.
MPs from Central Rift Valley comprising Nakuru, Laikipia, Naivasha and Subukia demanded that a region be created for them separating them from Bomet and Kericho.

Central Eastern MPs were also said to be pushing for a region of their own to be called Embu comprising Embu and Mbeere.

The 23-member steering committee, that has been used by the plenary as the avenue to settle differences kept holding consultations on the sticky issues.

Earlier the Parliamentary Caucus on Reforms criticised the hard-line positions taken by ODM and PNU over the contentious issues.

The group’s convener Danson Mungatana said the outbursts were a replica of unfolding events that precipitated the walkouts at the Bomas conference, that led to the aborting of the previous review process.

“When one party speaks the other one reacts and that is not helping us,” he said in reference to the antagonistic press conferences by ODM and PNU.  “Those who having press conferences talking about what their sides have won or lost ought to be ignored because they are not helping the process.”

Over the weekend, PNU and ODM traded barbs disowning agreements made last week.

“In the event we do not build sufficient numbers around the consultations, we also need to disagree in an agreeable manner so that we do not divide the country,” said Mr Mungatana.

Devolution overshadowed discussions on other contentious issues such as abortion, Kadhis courts and the transitional clauses.
A proposal to leave the Kadhis Courts to subsidiary legislation was thwarted by Muslim MPs leading to a stalemate.


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