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Review committee perusing foreign constitutions, says chair

By | March 17th 2009 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Beauttah Omanga

The committee of experts on new a constitution has begun perusing other countries’ constitutions.

The experts aim at borrowing a leaf on the best way to handle the Kenyan law review.

Committee Chairman Nzamba Kitonga said his team was going through copies of constitutions from Uganda, South Africa, France and India among others.

"We are studying those countries’ constitutions, how constitutional amendments were factored in and how best they have served their citizens before deciding if there is anything we can borrow," he said.

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Mr Kitonga said their main focus on the foreign constitutions was devolution of power from one centre to other arms of Government.

He said besides devolution, they were also looking at the entire aspect of governance.

He, however, said they no authority to determine at what point the civil society would be allowed to participate.

"It is Parliament to decide the numbers and professional bodies to work with us.

Sort out hitch

We expect Parliament to sort out the hitch because as the Act is now, it is not clear which groups deserve our attention," he said.

But a member of the civil society, Mr Cyprian Nyamwamu argued the committee had a leeway to decide this without referring the matter back to Parliament.

"The law allows the team of experts to consult at least 30 civil society and interest group representatives. Taking the issue to Parliament will derail the process," he warned.

He said Parliament should remain neutral as a referee and let Kenyans through different interest groups and the committee of experts decide on the ideal type of Constitution.

Last week, while addressing a civil society forum in Nairobi, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua said the Government was for an all-inclusive and transparent constitutional making process.

She said the Government would introduce changes to the Constitutional Review Amendment Act to include a framework where various stakeholders would be consulted.

The minister said a statutory Miscellaneous Bill would be published as soon as Parliament re-opens to ensure the committee of experts includes opinions of other interest groups.

Yesterday Kitonga said the Parliamentary Legal Committee had the mandate to decide whether to return the Bill to Parliament for amendment.

The civil society has continually called for its inclusion in the review process.

The Kitonga committee started working early this month, and has one year to deliver a new law.

New constitution Nzamba Kitonga law review
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