Monday, April 19, 2010

Raila’s olive branch to rivals in law debate


Prime minister Raila Odinga addresses a rally at Khadija ground in Mombasa on Sunday. He led a team of cabinet ministers and MP's in support of the 'Yes' campaign in Coast PROVINCE. Photo / Laban Walloga

Prime minister Raila Odinga addresses a rally at Khadija ground in Mombasa on Sunday. He led a team of cabinet ministers and MP's in support of the 'Yes' campaign in Coast PROVINCE. Photo / Laban Walloga

Posted Sunday, April 18 2010 at 21:00


  • Government delay in picking its team holds up draft negotiations with church leaders

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Sunday sought to calm passions as the debate on the draft constitution intensified.



Speaking at Khadija Grounds in Kisauni, Mombasa, Mr Odinga appealed to both sides of the debate to be peaceful and respectful in their campaigns.

“We do not want abuses or any use of force. It is their democratic right. Even Jesus said: ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing’,” he told the well-attended rally.

Campaigns for and against the draft, which will be put to a referendum later in the year, appear to be in full swing.

At the weekend, President Kibaki toured in Meru for two days, inspecting and launching projects as well as appealing for support for the draft.

Mr Odinga has been on a similar mission at the Coast, where he has spent four days.

Last week, the Catholic church announced that it will oppose the draft while the National Council of Churches of Kenya has been in Nyanza and Western with the message to churches to vote No.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka was conciliatory in Nairobi on Sunday, saying, a joint committee of representatives from government and the churches could help to bridge the divide. The country can’t afford a confrontation between Church and State, he said, and called for tolerance.

“What I know is that the Church has not closed the window of dialogue and people shouldn’t use the constitution debate to settle political scores,” the VP told worshippers at AIC Lang’ata church.

But even as the VP expressed confidence that the two sides will iron out the contentious issues, consultations are yet to start close to two weeks after the two agreed to form the committee.

Daily Nation has learnt that the government is yet to put together its four-member team to represent it at the talks. A top Office of the President official linked to the talks said the delay is because Government is still choosing its representatives.

The official, who asked not to be named because he is not allowed to speak for Government said the delay arose after the religious leaders insisted its negotiators will only deal with top government officials, not technocrats.

This forced the government side to reshuffle its initial team and start shopping around for officials to sit in it.

The official said there was some disquiet over remarks by Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo, asking churches to support the proposed constitution at the referendum and propose amendments later.

NCCK general secretary Canon Peter Karanja on Friday said religious leaders were yet to hear from the government on when the team will meet.

Yes, the Church met and we gave our names. The government was expected to pick its team also. We have not received any communication that any meeting has been held ever,” Rev Karanja told the Nationby telephone.



The negotiating team of four representatives from the churches and four from the government, was formed after President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Mr Musyoka held five-hour talks with senior church leaders in a bid to persuade them not to push for rejection of the draft.


The law as it is doesn’t provide for such changes and will need amendment first.

Christian leaders have vowed to campaign against the draft over clauses on abortion and kadhi courts.

The Church objects to the section of Article 26 which empowers doctors to end a pregnancy if it endangers the mother’s life or she needs emergency treatment.

The section reads: “Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other law.”

Christian leaders also oppose retention of Kadhi’s courts in the proposed law.

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Add a comment (5 comments so far)

  1. Submitted by werssylwer
    Posted April 18, 2010 11:41 PM

    Unbelievable !!! Who has been insulting others?

  2. Submitted by jakodembo
    Posted April 18, 2010 11:14 PM

    Mr VP, stop flip flopping on this issue, be man enough and face every crowd and tell them the truth. Window for negotiations or amendments is closed and you know that. Stop playing "mr. cool" because you are confusing the people and yourself. Very soon they will stop listening to you. Take a clear stand and stay with it.

  3. Submitted by abbarufa
    Posted April 18, 2010 10:56 PM

    Hardliners will cost Kenyans a great constitution. Amend the draft constitution to meet Christian leaders' demands, or else, forget the draft constitution. "No" campaign will prevail again. Why leave the work to parliament, one of the most corrupt institutions in the land?

  4. Submitted by admin1
    Posted April 18, 2010 10:44 PM

    Retired Bishop Gitari- History shows that the church made mistakes in the past.We are at that stage where Kenyans must decide the fate of the draft through a referendum!Why should government continue funding Christian Religious Education (CRE) in Kenya, just for starters? On abortion-can these SELECTED christian leaders re read the current and draft constitution. On land-Please ask the NO people to help us understand the Ndungu report on who has done wrongs to the Kenyan people! Here, we hasten to mention that the Catholic Church, Inland church etc are highly compromised.

  5. Submitted by Winchesters
    Posted April 18, 2010 10:42 PM

    The church should take a leaf from Raila's book and respect everybody's opinion.