, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are due to meet with church leaders on Thursday to discuss their objections to the proposed Constitution.
According to a statement from the Presidential Press Service (PPS), the two principals have invited representatives of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and the Catholic Church to the meeting at Harambee House.
“The meeting will also seek to come up with a way forward as the country prepares to vote for a new Constitution during a referendum expected later in the year,” said the PPS statement.
The meeting comes hot on the heels of fresh demands by the clergy for a review of the Constitution Amendment Act (2008) to delay the referendum by at least three months and allow for more dialogue.
NCCK Secretary General Cannon Peter Karanja told a press conference on Wednesday 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.
Speaking elsewhere, Prime Minister Raila Odinga had cautioned that it was difficult to amend the draft Constitution as that would introduce fresh controversy and could thwart the entire process.
He told a news conference that the draft was at a sensitive stage where the law prohibited any new proposals.
“I want to dispel any myth that it is still possible to introduce any kind of changes at this hour; it is impossible! The stage we have reached does not allow any more drafting or amendments!” he warned.
Mr Odinga said this year was the closest chance that Kenya had to attaining a new supreme law and any arguments would delay or even lead to a loss of the opportunity.
“No Constitution is perfect especially a product of protracted and intense negotiations like ours. We should be ready to give and take.”
He called on religious leaders and others opposed to the draft to support it and informed them that they could introduce amendments after the new Constitution is in place.
The Premier specifically addressed religious leaders who have vowed to frustrate the draft if their amendments on abortion and Kadhis courts were not accepted.