Implementing new Kenya law should be priority

July 30, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 30 – The Kenyan chapter of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) said on Friday that it would be impractical to start amendments immediately should the proposed Constitution sail through at next Wednesday’s referendum.

Chairperson Naomi Wagereka said the implementation of the proposed new law should be top on agenda if the Yes vote carried the day.

“We cannot, after a referendum, start amending the Constitution because that means going out there and trying to get a million votes. That means we will forever be on an election mood,” Ms Wagereka said.

She said that Kenyans have huge expectations and this should also be managed because change would not be realised immediately.

“It will take about five years for the full implementation of the proposed law if it passes and so there is need for patience,” the FIDA Chairperson said.

She urged those who strongly feel that some clauses in the proposed new law need to be amended to give the country time to heal first and then amendments would be done later.

Ms Wagereka said Kenyans should not allow themselves to be divided over the constitutional debate but instead realise that it was meant for the good of the nation.

“At the end of the day we need to sit down as a country and interrogate why some of us did not vote for the Constitution and those are the things we will be looking at going forward,” she said.

East Africa Centre for Law and Justice Executive Director Joy Mdivo said a new Constitution should not just be seen as one for governance issues only but also the social issues that affect everyday lives.

“A No vote is a chance for us to look at things afresh. In 2005 we had a referendum and we shot down that proposed Constitution for various reasons. Since that time to now, the number of people opposing the Constitution has diminished because issues were addressed to people’s satisfaction meaning consensus is possible,” Ms Mdivo said.

“If we have a Constitution that is very difficult to change -which is a very good thing -then it is important that we have a Constitution that is widely accepted because of legitimacy,” she said.

She said it was regrettable that some of the issues that were now considered as contentious had nothing to do with why the country was in search of a new Constitution.

“There were issues that had nothing to do with why we were looking for change that were tampered and interfered with,” she said.

“For example when you sit down and look at the proposed cConstitution there are things to do with abortion, things that quite frankly have got nothing to do with why we needed a Constitution in the first place so how did we end up with these things being called contentious?” she posed.


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