Kenyan churches adamant on referendum

May 25, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – Churches are now piling pressure on proponents of the proposed new Constitution to give dialogue a chance following Monday’s ruling outlawing Kadhis courts.
National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Secretary General Cannon Peter Karanja said on Tuesday that there was still time to resolve the contentious issues in the proposed law before the August 4 referendum.

He said this could be done if Parliament convened and amended the controversial clauses.

“Item number eight of the conclusion of the judgment says: “We grant a declaration that any form of religious courts should not form part of the Judiciary in the Constitution as it offends the doctrine of separation of state and religion”. We really urge that the government should show the way in operating within the law,” he told a news conference.

Cannon Karanja said the church would remain committed to the processes of getting a new Constitution that was widely acceptable.

Bishop David Oginde of the Nairobi Pentecostal Church said Christians were ready to join the ‘Yes’ camp as long as amendments on the controversial issues were  made.

“Our hope is that all Kenyans will now recognise that the matter of religion in the Constitution is an issue of justice and not be deceived by rationalisation of those who represent vested interests,” Bishop Oginde said.

At the same time, he said there were still two pending cases in court challenging the proposed Constitution.  

He said one of the cases filed in Nairobi challenged the process and the way views on the proposed Constitution were taken while the other filed in Mombasa challenged specific intended inclusions of various offending clauses.

“Yes we have two other cases in court which are more directly related to the proposed Constitution. The case that has just been ruled on (outlawing Kadhis courts) was a case that was directed towards the current Constitution but the other two cases are to do with the proposed Constitution and they are before the newly formed court,” Bishop Oginde said.

Lawyers David Mwaura and Judy Madhahana representing the church said the ruling made by Justices Joseph Nyamu, Mathew Emukule and Roselyne Wendoh (in a case that was filed in 2004) carefully considered the historical and legal basis.

They said the court upheld the fundamental principle of constitutional law that the Constitution was for the protection of all as provided for under section 70.

“There must be a separation of religion and State to uphold the democratic foundation and principles of the nation and equal treatment of all religions,” said the Christian lawyers.


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