Multi choice referendum opposed

April 25, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25- A section of Civil Society Organisations said on Sunday that it was impossible for Kenya  to have a multiple choice referendum for the draft constitution as suggested by some politicians.

Executive Secretary of the Constitution and Reform Education Consortium, a national coalition of civil society organisations, Kawive Wambua said the law just provided for a Yes or No referendum.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta had suggested a multiple choice referendum where the contentious issues would be separated from the agreeable ones.

"When he is saying that there should be a multiple choice referendum, then he is saying that the law must be changed to have a kind of referendum that suits certain interests and we are saying this is not possible now, we are too far ahead in the review process to have that happen," Mr Wambua said.

"What he is saying is not essentially bad but it cannot happen now if we are going to realise a new constitution," he added.

Centre for Law and Research International Executive Director Morris Odhiambo said the Yes and No campaigners should also stop side shows and base their campaigns on truth rather than propaganda.

"Some of the propaganda is capable of causing tension and conflict among Kenyans and in the spirit of nation building, in the spirit of transforming Kenya, in the spirit of the national accord, we think this must be avoided at all costs," he said.

The civil society groups under the banner of Katiba sasa also called on the Interim Independent Electoral Commission to intensify the voter registration exercise that has 10 more days to go by establishing more registration centres and by providing mobile registration centres in places where there were hindrances to registration.

"We further suggest that a day or two be set aside for registration where employers will be asked to give employees time off to register as voters," Mr Odhiambo said on behalf of the group.

"This is a better option than extending the registration period," he stated.

Meanwhile, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) added its voice to those supporting the draft constitution saying it guarantees and seeks to protect fundamental human rights for all Kenyans.

Chairperson Florence Simbiri-Jaoko said the draft for the first time in Kenya\’s history recognizes not just the civil liberties of the public but the economic and social rights for all.

"Key gains include the explicit establishment of important protections for the rights of the vulnerable groups, provision of the right to information, clear recognition and provision for space for women\’s participation in our country\’s public affairs and clearer provisions for democratic and accountable exercise of power, enhanced self governance and participation of the people. Given these and the various other gains, the Commission on Human Rights says \’Yes\’ to the proposed constitution," she said.
While acknowledging that there are still several sticky issues in the draft, the Chairperson added that it presented a platform where Kenyans could be treated with equality and dignity.

"Kenyans have for a long time clamored for a new constitution which better represents their aspirations, expectations and longings for a country where the government truly works in people\’s best interests and where they can live and develop together in peace. In our considered view, the proposed constitution provides a framework through and from which these longings can be progressively achieved," Mrs Simbiri-Jaoko added.

The gains to be accrued if the constitution is passed, the Commission reckoned far outweighs the contentious issues that have seen Kenyans divided into two factions; those for and against the draft constitution.

Mrs Simbiri-Jaoko said it was the right of every Kenyan to express their views about the constitution but everyone should respect the positions taken by others.

She called on the public to register as voters and in cases where they don\’t fully understand some clauses of the draft; to seek interpretation from credible people or organizations.

"Our message to fellow Kenyans is; be part of history-making. Do not fail to participate in this historic moment. Seek to inform yourself about the proposed draft, decide which position to take and then exercise your civic responsibility," she advised.


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