, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 17 – The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has been urged to take a leading role in sensitising Kenyans on all aspects of the proposed Constitution ahead of the August 4 referendum.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said it was high time lawyers participated fully in the civic education programmes to enable Kenyans make an informed decision on the draft.
Speaking at the Bomas of Kenya during a lawyers’ forum on the proposed Constitution, Mr Musyoka said respect for democratic principles; good governance and the rule of law are critical pillars to a progressive society.
He pointed out Kenya had made significant strides towards becoming a true democratic nation as evidenced by several efforts in establishing a wider democratic space and a freer society.
"It is impressive that you are this time round united unlike during the 2005 referendum. It is because of this reason that I urge you to take the responsibility through civic education to drum up support for the document," Mr Musyoka told the lawyers.
He said the quest for a new constitutional dispensation was synonymous with country’s history saying various clauses in the independence Constitution had been amended over time to suit specific needs of the country.
"We cannot afford this time round to waste this opportunity to give Kenyans a new Constitution," he added.
“In my understanding the desire to have in place a new constitutional dispensation was the 1998 KANU nominations exercise through what came to be infamously referred to as ‘mlolongo system’. Many political giants of the day were rigged out hence causing dissatisfaction among party followers,” he said.
Mr Musyoka noted that many democratic malpractices that include open rigging of general elections and political witch-hunting fuelled public outcry and mass demands for overhaul of the existing Constitution.
The Vice President said it was too late to stop campaigns as requested by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, saying the search for a new Constitution was now in top gear.
Present were MPs Abdikadir Mohammed and Gitobu Imanyara. Others were LSK chairman Kenneth Akide, former MP Paul Muite and Nzamba Kitonga among others.
Meanwhile, Mr Musyoka was among church and political leaders who attended a memorial services for the victims of last Sunday blasts at the Uhuru Park which killed six people and several others wounded.
The service was held at the All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi.
The VP strongly condemned the incident and said that the Government was handling the matter with the seriousness it deserves with a view to bringing those responsible to book.
Mr Musyoka reiterated his call for Kenyans to tolerate each other during the campaign period ahead of the referendum in August, saying everybody’s views should be respected.
He said there is no bad blood between the Church and the State, adding that it was essential for leaders to engaged in peaceful campaigns for the sake of unity and stability even after the referendum.
"We want to talk to each other at every stage of the Constitution making process. In fact, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Water Minister Charity Ngilu will continue to engage in dialogue with the church leaders so that we can get a common stand on matters of Constitution," said Mr Musyoka.