, Fellow Kenyans,
We are gathered here today for this very important and symbolic occasion. After much work and effort we are witnessing the official publication of the Proposed New Constitution for the Republic of Kenya.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the many Kenyans who have made this occasion possible. I commend them for their contribution to our long search for a new constitution. I salute the Kenyan people for having the patience to engage in one of the most intense public discourses in our nation’s history.
Let me also single out the Parliamentary Select Committee on the constitution Chaired by the Honourable Mohammed Abdikadir and the Committee of experts chaired by Nzamba Kitonga for their valuable input. I also commend the drafters at the Attorney General’s Office for their work on the final document.
The publication of the proposed constitution means that we are now finally at the threshold of ushering a new constitutional order for our beloved country. We have gone through most stages of the constitution making process.
As Kenyans appreciate, the constitution is the most important document in any country. As the ultimate depository of social will, the constitution will directly affect our lives as individuals and as a nation. It will also affect the lives of future generations to whom we have an obligation to bequeath a strong and solid constitutional foundation.
It is the constitution that will determine the character of our social, economic and political interaction. It will also entrench the rule of law and provide the basis of a united and prosperous working nation. In view of the importance of the constitution, it is immensely important that each and every Kenyan has a say in the making of the constitution.
I therefore wish to make a passionate appeal to Kenyans to read the proposed constitution carefully so as to make informed judgement. I appeal to the media to help frame the debate on the contents of the proposed constitution so as to enable our people make independent and objective decisions.
I also call upon all other stakeholders and Kenyans in general to be objective in their debate on the constitution. Let us debate frankly and above all truthfully. We must avoid the temptation to engage in falsehoods and propaganda that will mislead the people.
To help Kenyans understand the contents of the constitution, the government will avail at least 5 million copies of the draft. The proposed constitution will also be translated into Kiswahili and Braille to ensure that the document is available to a wide cross-section of our society.
At the end of the civic education period of thirty days we shall begin the process that will culminate in the holding of a national referendum. It is, therefore, imperative that Kenyans seize the opportunity offered through the referendum and vote on the new contract between the people and their government.
I urge all Kenyans to view the referendum with the seriousness it deserves so that we can have a constitution that will stand the test of time and adequately serve present and future generations of our people.
I therefore wish to thank the Kenyan people who have so far registered as voters. This will enable them participate in the referendum. It is your constitutional right as well as civic duty to vote and participate in shaping the constitutional order of our country.
I am fully aware that a few sections of the proposed constitution that has just been presented to us have not been well received by some members of our society. I wish to re-assure them that the fate of most living constitutions is that they are subject to change. We stand willing to support any future amendments that are meant to enrich the document.
Once again, let me appeal to Kenyans to be open-minded and to take time to understand the contents of the proposed constitution. When you read the document you will be less prone to misinformation. Let us all remember that constitution making is about the people of our country. I therefore appeal to Kenyans to remain tolerant of one another’s views. At the end of the day we are all Kenyans and must remain focussed on the work ahead.
After twenty years of searching for a new constitution, it is imperative that we now conclude this exercise. The conclusion of the exercise will enable us to focus our energies on the urgent work of national development.
THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL.