Raila pleads with church over draft law

March 27, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 27 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has once again criticised the church over their stand on the abortion and Kadhi courts issues in the draft constitution.

Speaking in his Kibera Constituency where he made a resounding pitch for a new constitution on Saturday, Mr Odinga asked church leaders to climb down from their hard-line positions on the controversial abortion and Kadhi debate.

“Someone is saying that I will ensure that this constitution does not go through if it has the kadhi’s courts but if that happens, we will remain with the current constitution and all the work done will be null and void,” the PM argued.

Church leaders have always stated that they will mobilise their faithful to reject the proposed draft constitution if the chapters on the Kadhi Courts and the right to life are not amended.

They want the Kadhi Courts expunged and the right to life guaranteed.

NCCK Secretary General Canon Peter Karanja had said that the State should be separated from religion and since Kenya is considered a secular State no religion should be mentioned in the supreme law.

The Christian community has been up in arms against the Committee of Experts (CoE) on the constitution for failing to recognise the courts as part of the contentions contained in the draft. The clergy faulted the PSC for failing to “listen to the Christians.”

Last month, the church leaders threatened to shoot down the draft in the national referendum after they claimed that the two review bodies had ignored the demands.

The church leaders claim that having such courts in the constitution was discriminatory as it makes references to Islam.

They termed as malicious a move by the CoE to remove provisions that guarantee the separation of State and religion, and that which provides that the State shall treat all regions equally.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo had called for dialogue between Christians and Muslims over the disputed Kadhis Courts issue, saying it would be a good avenue to avert the rejection of the draft at the referendum.

The draft establishes the Kadhi courts but limits them to the determination of the questions of Muslim law relating to personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance, in proceedings where all the parties profess the Muslim religion and submit to the jurisdiction of the Kadhi’s courts.

Speaking at the same time in Kibera, Orange Democratic Movement Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo, who accompanied the PM, also said he would lobby for MPs’ support on the party position for the creation of 25 regions and 74 to 80 counties.

Parliament is expected to conclude debate on the draft constitution with or without amendments on Thursday.


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