Uphill task for Kenyan MPs on draft

March 24, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, March, Mar 24 – Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende has thwarted an attempt to allow Members of Parliament to amend the Proposed Constitution by a simple majority of those present in the House.

In his ruling on Wednesday, Mr Marende told Parliament that a proviso in the review Act that any proposed changes must garner a 65 percent support was clear and superseded any other argument.

On Tuesday Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto argued that the House as the constituent assembly should be able to make changes to the draft without the requisite 145 MPs stipulated in the law claiming that at no stage has there been a consultative process.

“Such a finding would amount to this House arrogating itself a higher pedestal than the other organs of review despite having set out a very elaborate consultative process in the review Act,” he said

He reminded the MPs that they adopted a watertight law review Act to ensure credibility in the law review process.

“The threshold to amend the Proposed Constitution was made a little high to ensure that only at the most meritorious of circumstances could this happen,” he added.

On the second day of debate, members clashed on whether the House should indeed make any amendments to the draft law with Cabinet Ministers William Ruto and William Ole Ntimama pulling on different sides.

“History is going to judge us very harshly that we were not able to surmount courage and take our responsibility head-on instead evading it on flimsy grounds that we cannot raise the numbers or we can do that at a later date,” argued Mr Ruto who is the Agriculture Minister.

Mr Ntimama however said that members should not be made to make changes a rather good document because of the opinions of “two people.”

“The bravest thing is to give Kenyans a Constitution that is not going to be in disagreement with their desires,” stated Mr Ntimama.

Mr Ruto backed by Tourism Minister Najib Balala passionately pushed for the introduction of regions and the increase of counties from the proposed 47 to 80 claiming this would ensure equity and strengthen devolution.

“The minute you remove empowerment from the people at the grassroots level you allow the political elite at the centre to practice the culture of impunity,” said Mr Balala.

Others who made contributions were in agreement that the Committee of Experts\’ draft is far better than the current law. The legislators hailed the proposed document saying it would ensure good governance, equity and eliminate impunity.

On the issue of land, Assistant Minister Katoo Ole Metito said it was important that resources to run community land be controlled from the grassroots.

Parliamentarians will start considering proposed amendments on Thursday.


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