Milestone in Kenya Constitution quest

March 1, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 1 – Kenya’s two decade quest for a new Constitution inches closer with the Parliamentary Select Committee on constitution review (PSC) set to table the refined draft in the House on Tuesday for debate and adoption.

The Committee met in Naivasha on Monday to scrutinise the draft it received from the Committee of Experts on the Constitution review (CoE) last week ahead of the 30-day debate by MPs.

Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed said the PSC would continue efforts to build consensus on the draft to ensure the delivery of a largely acceptable document.

“The document we take must be one we know and that is why this meeting (Monday’s) was critical,” he said after chairing a daylong meeting at Sopa Lodge in the outskirts of Naivasha.

“We were preparing a report to accompany the document to the House.”

The refined draft largely reflected what the MPs agreed in Naivasha last month with minor changes particularly the creation of a powerful senate, a provision which has elicited some hidden discontent among MPs.

The creation of the Revenue allocation Commission has also been rejected by the MPs. However the hands of the committee are tied as they are legally bound to present to the House the document as it is.

During the debate in Parliament, the MPs can make amendments only after mobilising a two thirds majority support.

The PSC also agreed to host all MPs for a retreat in two weeks time to enlighten them on the draft with reports indicating that the committee will be evaluating to see whether there are prospects of enough support to make any amendments.

“The house can change what we agreed as the PSC or what the Experts have agreed. The House has a fresh mandate on this matter,” he said.

“We are happy with the work that has been done so far and it is for that reason that we will be having more discussions as we get further into the 30-day period.”

Should the House make any amendments, the draft and the proposals will be handed over to the experts to incorporate them. There is also a forum under the reference group comprising civil society, religious leaders and private sector members to mediate should a dispute arise.

The Attorney General will be required to publish the proposed law before the envisaged referendum slated for between June and July.  Should the program be followed, a new Constitution is expected in early August.

The draft has proposed a Presidential System of government modelled alongside the American one and a two tier devolution encompassing the National Government and 47 Counties. Also proposed is a 68-member Senate with powers to debate the Impeaching of the President and his deputy and laws relating to the counties.

All Judges will also be vetted afresh while the Provincial Administration will be restructured to reflect the new devolved system.


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