, NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 7 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has defended the inclusion of foreign experts in the drafting of laws to implement the new Constitution.
There has been uproar from civil society groups after the Attorney General announced that he would include top UK-based lawyers to help in drafting Bills that will give effect to the new law.
Mr Odinga said foreign expertise was necessary to complement the work of Kenyan lawyers.
“By asking for support in drafting the Bills, we do not want to encourage inbreeding. It is not beneficial to the country which is keen on benefiting from the experiences of other countries, if you ask the AG about legal draftsmen they will tell you that there is a big shortage,” he said when he hosted the National Democratic Institute Board of Directors at his new office.
Attorney General Amos Wako is set to fly to London to negotiate the deal, that will see the foreign team join drafters, whose membership is drawn from the his office and the Kenya Law Reform Commission.
Lawyer Kathurima M’Inoti and Chief Parliamentary Counsel Nancy Nzioka have been spearheading the government team in preparing the Bills.
The Premier said the endorsement of the new Constitution at the August 4 referendum marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the country, but warned that its implementation requires sacrifice.
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who now chairs the National Democratic Institute, said they were keen on making Kenya the entry point in entrenching democracy in the continent.
She said:" On behalf of the NDI we are very eager to help, we never impose American ideas. What we try to do is try best practices from around the world that we hope would be helpful as the government and political parties go ahead to implementing this remarkable Constitution."
This was the first time the NDI is holding its board meeting outside the US, which Mr Odinga cited as recognition of the changed political situation in the country and a great honour to Kenya.
The Institute\’s President Ken Wollack said they would provide technical support to assist government in implementing the new Constitution.
He said they would focus on strengthening capacity of Parliament and political parties in the consolidation of democracy even as the country moves towards setting up structures for the new law and revamping the electoral law in readiness for the 2012 General Election.
"The Parliament is fundamentally a political institution but there are parties within it in terms of its relationship with the citizenry and in terms of outreach and civic education are important component to the implementation process," he said.
Ms Albright was accompanied by former US Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle and US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, among others.