, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 9 – Kenya will usher in the new Constitution on Friday, August 27 at a ceremony to be officiated by President Mwai Kibaki following the conclusion of the referendum.
A dispatch from State House said on Monday that the ceremony would take place at Uhuru Park.
"In compliance with the Constitution of Kenya Review Act, 2008 and the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act, 2008 His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki will promulgate the new Constitution on Friday 27, August 2010," the Presidential Press Service statement said.
The date immediately generated robust debate with questions over whether the President would be acting within the law, since there had been wide expectation that the promulgation would take place by August 20 at the latest, after expiry of a 14-day period stipulated under Article 263 of the new Constitution.
Article 263 of the new Constitution says: "This Constitution shall come into force on its promulgation by the President or on the expiry of a period of fourteen days from the date of the publication in the gazette of the final result of the referendum ratifying this Constitution, whichever is earlier."
But Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo clarified that the law (The Constitution of Kenya Review Act, 2008) provides that the promulgation shall come not earlier than 14 days but not later than 28 days after the declaration of the final referendum result.
Mr Kilonzo said the law provides 14 days for anyone to file a case to contest the manner the referendum was conducted or the final result, after which the President has a further two weeks to assent the new law
“If you look at Article 263 it talks about within 14 days after the publications of the ‘final result’ and the final result is not what was announced last week. The final result is what will be published after the completion of the 14-day period of dispute resolution,” said Mr Kilonzo.
Lawyer Paul Muite said Kenyans said Article 263 meant that Kenyans were at liberty to have a public ceremony to celebrate the coming into force of the new Constitution on August 27, but the law would become effective on August 20.
"You cannot legally promulgate that which is already the Constitution. If that ceremony goes ahead (on August 27) it will be an exercise in futility," he told Capital News in an interview.
Mr Kilonzo said: “Supposing there was a dispute about numbers or about the way the referendum was organized…. that is why we have given 14 days for the dispute to give the new law legal legitimacy.”
The Constitution of Kenya Amendment Act (2008) that presents the review road map says the final result can only be published after any petitions are disposed of, or at the expiry of the 14 days if there are no disputes.
The August 27 ceremony is expected to be attended by several African heads of state and other world leaders.
The new Constitution was ratified by Kenyans last Wednesday in a referendum and the initial result of the referendum gazetted on Friday, August 6.