Controversy rocks Kenya law review

May 12, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 -The process of enacting a new Constitution has been rocked by fresh controversy after the government admitted it had printed two different drafts that were already in circulation.

The contentious document, said to be in circulation concurrently with the authentic one has amended section 24 (1) (d) to limit the Bill of Rights in cases the government deems “prejudicial to National Security.”

Attorney General Amos Wako told reporters that he had forwarded the authentic document to the government printers for publication, but bizarrely, some 20,000 copies of the draft were circulated with some curious inclusion of the two words.

“The intriguing aspect of this matter is that the same government printer has the correct version and the distorted version,” he said adding that he had ordered withdrawal of the wrong document.

 “Any member of public who has in his possession a document with the words ‘national security’ let him know that is a distorted version.”

He directed Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere to conduct investigations to determine who sneaked the illegal clause after he published the draft on Thursday last week and action be taken against them.

Mr Wako admitted that some forces within the government had been pushing him to amend the same section but the subsection that deals with limitations of bill of rights in regard to the security forces.

The Committee of Experts was quick to state that the anomaly had been noted and that the Office of the Attorney General had demanded that it vets all drafts to be distributed.

“The draft now being printed and distributed to the public is authentic as certified by the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution Review and the AG,” said CoE Director Ekuru Aukot.

However, chief political No campaigner William Ruto led nine MPs in demanding for the suspension of the August referendum.

“These same words (national security) have been the excuse used all the years to deny the people of this country their rights,” said Mr Ruto adding that the No team saw this as “an orchestrated move by the powers that be to endorse a fundamentally wrong document to Kenyans.”

“Under the pretence of National Security we have seen people sent to detention without trial, media house raided and even rallies of anti government people cancelled.”

Mr Ruto claimed that he had information that there were one million copies of the controversial draft already in circulation. The AG’s Office has admitted the circulation of the illegal draft but said it had ordered the suspension of printing the wrong document.

“I talked to the AG who acknowledged the error which he suspects occurred at the government printer and he intimated that some people in government had been pushing for the changes,” said Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo who joined Mr Ruto.

 Attorney General Amos Wako directed that investigations take place to determine who sneaked the illegal clause and action be taken against them. 

“The AG should have recorded a statement with the police by now,” said Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi.

The AG published the draft on Thursday last week.

The Committee of Experts in turn launched a nationwide civic education campaign in readiness for the referendum o be held in less than three months.

Mr Wako was expected to address a news conference on the controversy on Wednesday afternoon.


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