, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 6 – Attorney General Amos Wako on Thursday released the Proposed Constitution which will be put to vote at the referendum, setting Kenya’s date with destiny, as the end to the two-decade search for a new Constitution edged closer.
President Mwai Kibaki who was at hand to receive his copy of the draft at the ceremony held at the Kenyatta International Conference centre called for tolerance amongst Kenyans regardless of the position they have taken in the debate.
“I don’t want anybody to be worried about the other. There is no need to quarrel with each other, if he doesn’t agree with you, he doesn’t… and you are not going to make him to do so by quarrelling,” he said.
He announced that the government would publish at least five million copies of the draft. The President added that it would be translated into Kiswahili and Braille.
In his speech, Mr Wako said he had carried out his “editorial role” responsibly without changing any part of the draft except for obvious errors. The AG reminded Kenyans about the genesis of the two decade search for a new constitution which started in 1991.
“Lives have been lost, persons have been injured, tears flowed, sacrifices made to reach where we are,” he said likening the process the biblical story of the deliverance of Israelites from captivity in Egypt.
“We are like the children of Israel who wondered in the wilderness for many years. We are about to cross the river Jordan.”
He used the event to appeal to Church leaders opposed to the Proposed Constitution to reconsider their position and use available means to move amendments after the enactment of the draft. He also advised that all rallies for Yes and No camp should be suspended until the 30-day civic education period comes to an end.
While appreciating divergent positions on the draft, National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende urged Kenyans to put the interests of the nation first and ensure a united post-referendum Kenya.
“I appeal to all Kenyans to keep their eyes on the ball and the ball is the Kenyan nation. We must keep our oneness; we must keep our nationhood. We must reform this country and make it the best in the world. Either way, Yes or No, we must maintain our nationhood,” he urged.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka continued with his reconciliatory position at one point endorsing the draft, but maintaining that consensus building was the way to go.
“I am urging my fellow Kenyans to say Yes for posterity but I want us to do so as a caring nation. I remain convinced that we cannot close the window of amendments,” he said.
On his part Prime Minister Raila Odinga urged Kenyans to take advantage of the four-day voter registration extension that was announced on Wednesday by the IIEC.
He also urged those calling for amendments to the draft law to first pass it and seek changes later after the referendum.
“Lets us agree that what we have now may not be a perfect document. As we continue to dialogue let us also be very clear that this document cannot be amended now,” he said.
Publication of the document now hands over the process to the Interim Independent Electoral Commission which is expected to conduct a vote on the document within the next 90 days.
The IIEC will have seven days within which to publish the referendum question and announce the referendum date 14 days later.
President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have already been leading government officers in drumming support for the draft, facing off with Church leaders aligned to the No camp.