MPs unlock constitution impasse

December 6, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 7 – Members of Parliament have now agreed to debate the controversial report of the Andrew Ligale boundaries commission in a bid to unlock a deadlock that has paralysed implementation of the new Constitution.

The decision was reached after a daylong meeting at the Kenya Institute of Administration, where the Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende earlier warned them they faced the threat of a snap election, if the stalemate continued.

In the spirit of give-and-take, the legislators agreed that the report should be debated and adopted with or without amendments after which it will be implemented by the yet to be formed Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

"The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee will now study the report of the Ligale Commission and make its recommendations on the way forward," said the departmental committee\’s chairman Ababu Namwamba.

The MPs agreed to expedite the formation of IEBC which supersedes the IIBRC, to take over the recommendations of the report and conclude the work of the Ligale commission.

"Those recommendations will include preparing legislations that shall put in place the IEBC with a very specific mandate including a specific timeframe within which it will assist in concluding this process," Mr Namwamba said.

"This agreement will pave the way for unlocking the deadlock in the implementation schedule of the Constitution."

Two weeks ago, the country missed the first constitutional deadline to establish the Commission for Implementation of the Constitution and the Commission on Revenue Allocation when MPs delayed the approval of nominees in protest at the delayed gazettment of the new electoral units.

However despite the agreement, some dissenting MPs promised to ensure that their views on the distribution of the new constituencies were accommodated in the final House resolution during debate on the report.

"The court has been clear on the issue, that what Ligale did was not in conformity with the constitution.  Before we adopt this report we must go deeper before we adopt it and see to what extent we are going to adopt it," said Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri.

MPs from Central and some part of upper Eastern have been in the lead to oppose the IIBRC report claiming that it had disadvantaged their areas. The Secretary General of the party of National Unity Kiraitu Murungi however said they had agreed to debate the report and seek a way forward.

"The Ligale report will be one of the preparatory materials of the new commission," he said,

Speaking at the opening of the make-or-break retreat, Mr Marende had told the MPs that failure to agree "was not an option."

"I want to agree with one lawyer who said when there is a constitutional crisis and it persists that the only exit is elections. Are we ready for an election?" posed the Speaker.

The chairman of the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee Abdikadir Mohammed dismissed a proposal to amend the constitution and give the Interim independent Electoral Commission more time to finish its work.

He added: "If we get the political issues unlocked I am sure we will have the legal ways to address the matter."


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