Minister urges Kenya MPs not to amend draft

March 15, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – Debate on the Proposed Constitution intensified on Monday with a Cabinet Minister urging Parliamentarians to adopt the draft without making any amendments.

Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno said he does not expect the two coalition partners to take hard-line positions when debate begins in the House on Tuesday.

“Any portion of it or any clause in it that may need to be reconsidered should only be done after subjecting the document to adequate periods of practice before we can be very sure any amendments are necessary,” Mr Otieno said while fielding questions from journalists.

The Party of National Unity (PNU) and its counterpart Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) have differed over the document with the former proposing changes to the document which they claim negate the political consensus arrived at by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Constitution Review when it met in Naivasha in January. ODM on the other hand claims to be comfortable with the draft submitted by the Committee of Experts (CoE).

Mr Otieno, who is ODM parliamentarian, reiterated his party’s position that debate should be conducted in the parliamentary Chamber.

“The question of continuing the debate outside when we have been debating outside for 20 years is unnecessary,” he said.

A section of ODM legislators scuttled the proposed Naivasha retreat on the Constitution which was due to be held last week, reportedly because they did not want PNU to lobby for amendments.

The MPs voted against an adjournment Motion that would have freed MPs to attend the retreat that was set to build consensus before the draft is debated in Parliament.

Mr Otieno, who was a member of the 1997 Inter- Party Parliamentary Group (IPPG) which oversaw key reforms in the Constitution, advised MPs who are opposed to the draft to make their proposals on the floor of the House.

The Public Service Minister said he was concerned that debate being played out in the media had failed to point out specific proposals they would like to see effected.

“There are no fundamental differences over the document before Parliament and if anybody thinks he needs to change something in that document let him make a proposal that this clause should be amended and read in this manner," he said.

"If Parliament finds that you have come out with a better provision of a clause they will give two-thirds majority for that clause to be changed and we go ahead."



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