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MPs should wait court ruling on 2012 poll date

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13 – Parliament should await the Supreme Court’s determination of a matter seeking interpretation of the elections date before it commences debate on proposed constitutional amendments, a political analyst has said.

Law lecturer Martin Oloo says the government should enjoin the cases filed in court and present to the court its reasons for wanting a review of the elections date from August to December.

Oloo concedes that it may be hard to conduct a free and fair election in August 2012 due to the processes that have to be undertaken before the election, but he argues that the Cabinet should not sit alone and decide on a constitutional amendment on the date of election.

“Given that we haven’t formed the body to manage elections, it may be hard to conduct an election that meets the standards of being free and fair, but rather than Cabinet sitting and decreeing that we need to amend the Constitution they should apply to get enjoined in the suits already in court and explain the reasons why the August date is not achievable,” said the don.

Oloo advised that it is still too early to amend the one-year-old Constitution as it would open the gates even for retrogressive amendments.

“What Kenya needs now is not a quick attempt to amend the Constitution; we must resist it and make sure that Parliament and the Executive do not get their way in amending the document. It is still too early; the ink hasn’t dried on it. We can live with it at least for a while,” he reiterated.

The Minister for Justice and Constitutional affairs Mutula Kilonzo has already published the Constitutional Amendment Bill and will soon table it in Parliament.

Oloo has also warned that although challenges will be faced in the constitutional implementation process, the process may suffer further setbacks if the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) and the Attorney General do not work in harmony.

The legal scholar emphasised that the CIC must stick to its mandate of ensuring the implementation process is on schedule and in the spirit of the goals set to be achieved by the constitution.

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He said: “CIC is supposed to monitor, coordinate and ensure that the implementation of the Constitution is within prescribed timelines as opposed to interpreting the constitution and pointing fingers at who is doing wrong or right.”

Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai hit back at the commission on Monday, accusing it of usurping powers and roles it does not have as far as the new constitution is concerned just days after the CIC released their quarterly report detailing the setbacks faced in the process of implementing the new constitution.

“I am concerned that the CIC appears to have arrogated to itself the role of interpretation of the law in general and the Constitution in particular, which role is vested in the Supreme Court,” the AG said in a statement sent from his office on Monday.

Animosity between the two legal bodies stems from their divergent opinions on whether the date of the next General election should be amended in the new Constitution.

The new Constitution stipulates that a General Election shall be held on the second Tuesday of August after every five year electoral term, effectively setting stage for the next general election to be held on August 14 next year.


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