Churches want more time on draft law

April 7, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – Church leaders now want an extension of the constitution review process by three months to allow consensus building on the contentious issues.

The church leaders told a news conference on Wednesday that the legal framework guiding the constitution review process should be amended to allow extra time for negotiations and re-drafting of the controversial clauses.

Led by National Council of Churches of Kenya Secretary General Cannon Peter Karanja, the clergy maintained that the church would not soften its stand until its concerns, especially on the inclusion of Kadhis courts, were addressed.

“We take fault with Parliament for denying Kenyans the opportunity for further consensus building already provided for in the review Act 2008 by hurriedly passing on a document to the Attorney General that they did not agree about,” Cannon Karanja said.

“How do you explain why there were so many proposed amendments including those that touched on matters that have been of interest and concern to the church and which had never been addressed in the review process?” he posed.

Cannon Karanja said lack of conclusion on the contentious issues may lead to rejection of the draft Constitution.

He said the threshold for the ratification of the draft Constitution at the referendum should also be raised from half of the valid votes to two thirds of the valid votes cast.

“Since the amendment processes beyond the referendum require the same National Assembly that has slighted the Christians to pass the amendment, we have no confidence in them,” he said adding that they also had no confidence in the justice system.

“Our experience with the courts is that they have more theatrics rather than a commitment to dispensing of justice and we have seen no evidence that the dispute resolution court would be any better,” he said.

Evangelical Alliance of Kenya General Secretary Reverend Willy Mutiso accused the Judiciary of exacerbating a gross injustice against the church by failing to conclude cases on Kadhis courts that were pending in court since 2004.

“In 2004, thirty four church leaders filed a case in High Court seeking the expunging of Kadhis courts from the 1963 constitution. The arguments in this case were concluded in 2009 and the ruling was to be made within 42 days. To date, the judiciary has been unfairly sitting on a ruling for more than one year and three months which is grossly unfair to Kenyans,” he said.

Rev Mutiso said another two cases were filed in 2009, one in Mombasa and another in Nairobi both seeking an explanation on why the issue of Kadhis courts was not included in the list of contentious issues in the proposed constitution.

“Though they were filed under certificate of urgency the cases are yet to be heard and determined,” he said.


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