Wednesday, March 24, 2010



Kenya's Parliament building. PHOTO/ HEZRON NJOROGE

Posted Tuesday, March 23 2010

A repeat of the 2005 referendum may play out as ODM and PNU take opposing sides
Kenyans face the prospect of another contested referendum as MPs started debate on the draft constitution without consensus.

Torn apart by competing political interests, the two partners in the coalition government — the Orange Democratic Movement and the Party of National Unity — retreated to separate meetings to lay strategies for debate.

None has the numbers in the House to push through amendments to the draft and it looks increasingly likely that the document will be passed without any changes.

Election violence

Those opposed to certain clauses in the draft could resort to campaigning against it. A similar contested referendum in 2005 created conditions for the violence during the election in 2007 in which more than 1,000 people were killed and half a million evicted from their homes.

On Tuesday, President Kibaki met a core team of ministers and advisers at Harambee House, while Prime Minister Raila Odinga held a Parliamentary Group meeting at Orange House. The differences between the two parties are believed not to be about issues of law per se, but a jostling for political advantage.

Disagreements centre on the chapters on devolution, transitional clauses, land ownership and ethnicity which might decide the fate of the draft during the referendum.

Debate on the draft got under way in the afternoon when Parliamentary Select Committee chairman Mohamed Abdikadir moved the motion. Mr Mohamed, his deputy Ababu Namwamba and former Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua asked the House to pass it.

But Roads assistant minister Wilfred Machage said he would only support the draft if a new clause guaranteeing minority rights was included.

Failed to agree

On Monday evening it began to emerge that an informal meeting of MPs, popularly known as the Speaker’s Kamukunji, scheduled for Tuesday morning would not take place after all as MPs failed to agree on the amendments during their four-day retreat at the Kenya Institute of Administration (KIA).

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga were to attend the meeting, National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende had informed MPs at KIA.

However, on Tuesday, the President met PNU coalition core team which included deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta (Kanu boss) and Cabinet ministers George Saitoti (PNU chairman) and Kiraitu Murungi (secretary general). Present also during the three-hour meeting were his advisers Kivutha Kibwana and PNU consultant Peter Kagwanja.

At stake were issues of devolution and representation, and some sources said they resolved to support a two-tier government (national and county levels). However, the sources said, they declared their readiness to have the counties increased from the current 47 to 80.

The same sources claimed that it was agreed that any move to create a three-tier government would be opposed since it was costly and the public had vetoed it.
At the Orange House, the opposite was agreed. ODM MPs said they would seek to amend the draft to increase the levels of devolution from two to three.

Party secretary general Anyang’ Nyong’o said they would lobby MPs to attain the required numbers (145) to pass the amendment.

“We want to emphasise that ODM upholds its manifesto and will move an amendment to the draft to have in place three levels of government—national, regional and county,” he said.

The three-tier government will be made up of 25 regional governments and between 74 and 80 counties.

On Tuesday, Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo attributed the KIA deadlock to “a strange behaviour” of MPs and tribalism. He also blamed PNU and ODM for the failure to agree and said: “I can live with the draft as it is.”

After failing to strike a deal at KIA and the subsequent cancellation of the Speaker’s Kamukunji that could have resulted in a common position on clauses that need to be amended, MPs are now debating the CoE draft under strict House rules.

For any amendment, the movers would have to garner a 65 per cent vote (145 MPs) to push through the changes — a tall order in the deeply divided House.

However, if the lobbying fails, they are likely to pass the draft in its current form and wait for it at the referendum where reports have indicated that plans for a No and Yes campaigns are taking shape.

This is because the Constitution of Kenya Review Act does not provide for MPs to reject the draft in its entirety.

Said assistant minister Peter Munya: “If we fail to make any amendments to the draft, we will leave it to the public to decide. You should not be surprised to see No and Yes campaigns happening.”

Assistant minister Aden Duale said the draft had to reflect the wishes of the people and any decision to deny them their right would be opposed.

“I support a constitution that takes care of the interests of my people and if it doesn’t, then they will vote against it. A constitution is about allaying fears of communities that have suffered for long,” he said.

If MPs pass the draft, it would be taken to the Attorney General for drafting and thereafter the referendum where Kenyans will give their verdict.

The referendum is scheduled for July.

Additional reporting by Alphonce Shiundu


Submitted by Jolly77
Posted March 24, 2010 11:19 AM

If there is no agreement this time, Kenya will be a laughter to the International community and on top, I could imagine that some aid to Kenya might be cut off due to suspicion that Kenya tries to block certain rights to women.

Submitted by Mbirime
Posted March 24, 2010 11:03 AM

Well, neither PNU nor ODM has the numbers in the house to amend the draft, but we know who has the numbers out of the house. So, bring it guys. Tukutanie tepe!

Submitted by wanjohij
Posted March 24, 2010 10:28 AM

I see right at the end of the tunnel why because of the following comment by Hon. martha Karua "If you make an oppressive law tomorrow you will be the oppressed… the Constitution must be made devoid of partisan interests. Let us pass a constitution that even our worst enemies would be comfortable with… we have two choices, to vote for status quo or vote for change," Probably its the time we have a woman in the state house, keep it up Martha!!

Submitted by krugutt
Posted March 24, 2010 09:56 AM

There are technical and operational issues in the proposed constitution that must be amended if this is expected to pass at the referendum. One of the most contentious sections is that of land and national land commission (NLC) including the highly controversial sections like “parliament will legislate the minimum and maximum acreage”, and NLC will be in-charge of land management and administration. Just as we know, “security is to Israel as land is to Kenya”, the land section of the constitution will not pass the referendum if it is not amended in parliament. NLC, cannot-operate-without-a-strong-parliament-oversight! Devolution-is-another-sensitive-section-that-must-receive-a-broad-acceptance-in-and-outside-parliament-to-pass-at-the-referendum.

Submitted by azizochieng
Posted March 24, 2010 09:52 AM

Hey guys, lets start campaigning to pass the constitution as prepared by COE. Its far much better than what we have currently. I'm not convinced about the changes ODM or PNU are after, our best chance is the COE document. What do you say?

Submitted by rgachau
Posted March 24, 2010 09:39 AM

Its simple now its all politics not what we want as the people

Submitted by kifarunyati
Posted March 24, 2010 08:59 AM

Leaders or Mutilators ? MPs should be reasonable enough and refund the money they used in Naivasha and KIA. Their contribution to the new constitution is totally negative and majority will not make it again to Paliament. COE please continue.

Submitted by mworiamwenda
Posted March 24, 2010 08:18 AM

Let the MPS pass the proposed constitution the way it is. Amendments can be made later. We cannot keep debating changes to be made in the constitution forever.

Submitted by musyokaj
Posted March 24, 2010 07:44 AM

What PNU is saying is they can live with the draft as it is. I agree with them 100%. ODM boxed into a corner, your opponents have accepted everything you wanted and you are left looking like a rained on lion. Wake up people. Be Kenyan not ODM or PNU

Submitted by jokaseda
Posted March 24, 2010 06:33 AM

We wrote and repeated the word to all Kenyans. The Bill is perfect as drafted by the CoE.We are not interested in a boulted government. We can't afford it. VOTE YES FOR THIS CONSTITUTION. Resist a few PNU members who want to push in their personal interests. Please Hon.Raila and ODM, stand firm for the will of the masses and we will be in Kenya to vote "YES" followed by victory in 2012.

Submitted by jaykenya
Posted March 24, 2010 03:34 AM

Vote yes for the COE document, it's better than any deals done in the dark!

Submitted by Tjgathi
Posted March 24, 2010 01:23 AM

There is nothing wrong with disgreements. Thats the way of all democracies. People voice their concerns to enlighten the public with the aim of winning them over. Then they vote and the winner takes it all. I think we have gone through the hardest part now. Huraaaaaa.

Submitted by mza
Posted March 24, 2010 01:14 AM

Is there anything 'developmental' in these drafts? Do Kenyans not realise ours is a third world country? Whoever or whichever way we share resources, many will still lack. Let's stop barking the wrong tree!

Submitted by swala nyeti
Posted March 24, 2010 01:00 AM

The Legislature is a true mirror of the Kenyan plebiscite. Decietful to the core.

Submitted by atuara
Posted March 24, 2010 12:44 AM

At this juncture when the new constitution discussion, enters its final stretch, before it becomes the law of the land, it is very important for the parliamentarians(people's legal representatives) to remember that most of the words contained in this document are in most cases from their logical,thoughtful, intelligent and at times genius long deliberations. So, that being the case the honorable members, should not feel obligated to change what is before tthem in the next few days. They must know they will down in history as a bunch of great leaders of Kenya.

Submitted by wanmt
Posted March 24, 2010 12:39 AM

MPs seem never to learn from past mistakes. Hitory is bound to repeat itself but we hope the divisive element witnessed in the last referendum will not resurface. Kenya currently needs peace, unity and stability more than anything else!

Submitted by Osoregeorge
Posted March 24, 2010 12:35 AM

PNU has woken up from the dream that they had Ruto and hsi R/Valley MPs in their docket,See how things can change over night.They are the ones who insisted on polishing the document before its taken to Parliament,ODM had said they were to support it the way it was.Now that ODM has put their thot on the table,PNU is ready to pass it as it is.why do they want to make it their document?

Submitted by christmas80
Posted March 24, 2010 12:21 AM

i wish it was not supposed to pass thru there, they have nothing to offer. please just take it for the referedum. these guys are power hungry nothing else sory for that

Submitted by waraqi
Posted March 24, 2010 12:21 AM

Whoever came up with the idea of CoE did Kenyans a lot of good. That was the most brilliant idea. You can see how MPs are always thirsty for their own personal interests. CoE did their work within the stipulated time with no bickering at all.

Submitted by MichaOlga
Posted March 23, 2010 11:56 PM

Never ceases to amaze how divided they are about anything that involves the good of Kenyans but united in everything that benefits themselves. Amazing!

Submitted by adou
Posted March 23, 2010 11:40 PM

The COE constitution is far better than the current colonial constitution, PASS THIS THING as it is

Submitted by vicman
Posted March 23, 2010 11:39 PM

Kenyans if they did not reach a consensus behind closed doors dont expect anything from them.Now its their time to play to the gallery and cameras.Headline grabbing.Its only Domo Domo.The COE are the winners.

Submitted by Tomytom
Posted March 23, 2010 11:30 PM

The 'men' from space. They behave like they are seing the constitution document for the first time in their lives.