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Kenyan MPs urged not to deface draft law

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26 – The Association of Professionals of East Africa on Friday called on Parliament to pass the Proposed Constitution without any amendments.

Chairman Dr Daniel Ichangi called on MPs to rise above partisan interests and further raised concern with the raft of proposed amendments which he claimed were not aimed at improving the proposed document.

He claimed that a section of MPs were being used to mutilate the current draft.

“We observe that anti-reformists are using some MPs to introduce issues that were not contentious before. It is becoming clear that the atmosphere in Parliament is so poisoned and no meaningful debate can take place, therefore jeopardising consensus making.”

The association further said that it supported the Proposed Constitution presented by the Committee of Experts and called for the retention of a strong Senate with powers to check the excesses of the Executive and the National Assembly.

The professionals also backed proposals to have 47 counties instead of the 80 proposed by some MPs.

He said: “In an era when everyone is talking of forming economic blocs and federations such as the East Africa Community or African Unity, we cannot be talking of protecting regional cocoons; it simply has no place in this world.”

They called on MPs to avoid polarising the debate of the proposed Constitution through adoption of hard-line stands.

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The MPs are also unable to agree on the powers of the Senate, the authority of the Prime Minister during the transition period before the next election, and the amount of money that should be sent to the devolved governments.

“In 2005, it was said that the Proposed Constitution was 80 percent good but laced with little poison. The same cannot be said of the current draft Constitution which in our opinion addresses most of the issues.”
Dr Ichangi called on religious groups to consider dialogue to adopt an inclusive approach to contentious faith-based matters in the draft.

The churches have threatened to shoot down the proposed Constitution owing to clauses that support abortion and inclusion of Kadhis Courts.

The law provides for a Reference Group – made up of 30 members from civil society, religious groups, and professional bodies – to join the Committee of Experts (CoE) and the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) in drawing up the final document in case a stalemate ensues in the House.

The 26-member PSC, the Reference Group, and the nine-member CoE will have seven days to break the impasse. Parliament will be bound by the decision of these deliberations and the document will be published to allow Kenyans to vote on it in the referendum.

Legislators have until Thursday next week to pass the document with or without any changes.

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