Kenya draft constitution published


Kenyans inched closer to getting a new constitution after the East African country’s Attorney General Amos Wako published the Harmonized Draft Constitution on last week without any changes.

Speaking during the launch of the published constitution at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, Wako said that Kenyans should be ready to ‘cross over into Canaan after twenty years of wondering in the wilderness in search of a new constitution.’

On his part, President Mwai Kibaki rooted for the document adding that the document is the best, and Kenyans should not squander this chance. Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that those opposed to the draft constitution are individuals with selfish interests, and called on those who are calling on Kenyans to reject it to be honest and factual while addressing the matter. He also warned politicians against polarizing the nation.
“The hour has come, the moment is now, Raila declared, probably upon reflecting on the nine years that he spent in detention for agitating for pluralism in Kenya. He was also on the forefront of the calls for a constitutional dispensation in the east African economic giant.

The publishing of the draft constitution heralds the dawn of a new era for Kenyans, since the document has gained acceptance from a majority of Kenyans and international partners. As per the Constitutional Amendment Act of the current Constitution, the Committee of Experts has seven days to draft the questions that will form the basis on which Kenyans will either vote for, or against the draft constitution.

The Committee also has thirty days to conduct civic education, whose main aim is to teach Kenyans on what is contained in the document. The Committee of Experts or COE as it is commonly referred in Kenya is the body that was mandated to craft the document, while taking cognizance of the contentious issues that had led to the rejection of another draft in November 2005.

On its part, the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) has ninety days to organize and oversee a referendum, whose results are to be announced two days after the actual voting. This is the body that replaced the discredited Electoral Commission of Kenya, which had been blamed for the poor handling of the December 2007 General Election that led to the post election violence.

Meanwhile, the publishing of the Draft Constitution has hence closed any window of amendments as has been proposed by those opposed to it. The church in particular has been vocal over the clause on abortion, and the one on the Kadhis Courts, which they oppose. Some members especially from the Rift Valley have also singled out the clause on land as the source of their anger, and have vowed to rally their constituents to vote against the draft.

Pic: President Mwai Kabaki of Kenya