Kenyan parliament passes draft constitution

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Kenya’s parliament adopted a draft constitution as part of reforms agreed in 2008 by politicians to end post-election violence, paving the way for it to go to a referendum.

Analysts have said a widespread culture of impunity in Kenya can only be uprooted through changes to the constitution and reforms to the police, judiciary and election authority.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission is now expected to put it to a referendum in July.

Some politicians fear critics could use the months ahead of the referendum to whip up sentiment against the constitution and have the electorate scuttle it at the vote.
“I don’t want us to bury our heads in the sand,” Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told parliament.
“We still have issues in this document on land, devolution, on armed forces, on transitional clauses and many others. I want to urge the house … to relook at the process set out in the act and see whether we can still take time out before rushing this draft to the Attorney General.”

The draft constitution was passed without any of the 160 changes proposed by legislators being passed.

Some of the most controversial issues in the draft are the executive powers and a devolved government.

The new constitution would institute regional governments to distribute some of the activities undertaken centrally. Some Kenyans have opposed this saying it would be too expensive and further entrench ethnic divisions in Kenya.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to share power to end the political violence that killed at least 1300 people after a disputed election, uprooted more than 300 000 and dented the country’s image as a stable trade, tourism and transport hub.

They also agreed to the so-called Agenda Four reforms that included the constitutional review.

The draft will now be passed to Attorney General Amos Wako, who will publish it ahead of the referendum.

Pic: Kenyan President- Mwai Kibaki

Source: www.af.reuters.com