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New laws: What Cabinet agreed

BUSINESS
By | Aug 20th 2010 | 4 min read
By | August 20th 2010
BUSINESS

By Martin Mutua

The Cabinet has committed itself to full implementation of the new Constitution within one year — not the five set out in the Fifth Schedule. The Cabinet meeting under President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga this week also decided the vetting of judges, completion of Supreme Court laws, and new electoral rules should be complete by Christmas.

Sources said the remainder of the year could be the busiest for the Tenth Parliament given that the Government wants to table in the House the Bills it has prioritised.

In pursuit of the strict deadline it has set, the Cabinet asked that the drafting of more urgent Bills begin under the auspices of the relevant ministries through the direction of the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s office. This means by the time the National Implementation Commission is set up in 90-days as envisaged in the Act, it will find them waiting for its final brush.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo yesterday assured the country the Government had adopted, as one of its strategies for smooth implementation, to cultivate a national constituency with a stake on the completion of the process.

"The Cabinet decided that the country should have a national consensus through intensified civic education so that the whole country can own the process," said Kilonzo.

To achieve that, the Government will protect the process from interference by vested interests.

Constitution: Cabinet commits to one year plan

Mutula told the Editor’s Guild in Nairobi his ministry had an ambitious strategy to facilitate the submission of various Bills to Parliament to operationalise the new Constitution.

In what could be a pleasant ‘coup’, by the Cabinet, all the legislations that were to be implemented within the next five years, will be brought to the House for debate this year.

On Tuesday, the Cabinet formed a 16-member committee, which the President and the Prime Minister will chair to oversee the implementation of the new Constitution.

PSC be expanded

The Cabinet recommended that the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) that takes over from the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) be expanded from 15 to 21 members to accommodate different political interests.

At the PNU/ODM joint Parliamentary Group meeting on Monday, MPs resolved the CIOC be made up of 15 MPs.

It was also proposed Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed chairs the committee, with Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, as his deputy.

The other 13 slots were to be filled by parliamentary parties with calls made for the exclusion of members who previously served in the PSC.

Mutula announced his ministry was ready with about five Bills lined up for approval by the Cabinet before forwarding them to the House for debate.

The legislation, he stated, include the Commission on Implementation Bill, the Judicial Services Commission Bill, the Vetting of Judges Bill, the Electoral Bill, and the Supreme Court Bill. "By December, we need to have enacted a new electoral law, and since Kenyans have confidence in the Interim Independent Electoral Commission, I would be seeking to have them confirmed, with more teeth," said Mutula.

The military is leaving nothing to chance in preparation for the inauguration of the new Constitution by President Kibaki next week. The Cabinet has committed to implement the new laws in one year. [PHOTO: collins kweyu/STANDARD]

Through new laws, all future elections will be digitalised so Kenyans can vote electronically.

That will also mean that the law establishing the Supreme Court and the process for vetting of judges will be ready, by early next year.

Mutula said the electoral body ought to be mandated to nullify elections and also to prosecute politicians engaged in hate speech.

It had been feared the formation of the Commission on Implementation would be a set back because it was to be established within 90 days after the new Constitution is promulgated.

This commission is then supposed to work with the Attorney General to generate Bills for enactment by the House.

The decision to fast track the legislation by the Cabinet could have therefore been informed by these challenges. "This will not be similar to the so-called radical surgery of the Judiciary, which saw the doctor and the patient dying," he added.

The minister, who was addressing members of the Media Owners Association and the Editors Guild during a breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel, said:

"I wish the promulgation of the new Constitution could have been done sooner because I think August 27 is too far," he added.

Partner with the media

He pointed out Kenyans had said they trust the media more than any other institution in disseminating information, and that it was his wish to partner with the media in the implementation.

"All the vested lobbies of corruption and impunity are kept at bay. We do not want the new Constitution to suffer the same fate as the Magna Carta where King John never saw its implementation," said Mutula.

Magna Carta is an English Charter issued in 1215 and reissued in the 13th century in modified versions, which omitted certain temporary provision, including the challenge to the monarchy.

Mutula appealed to the media not to allow hurdles that would delay the implementation of the new Constitution.

He expressed his disappointment with the manner civic education was conducted before the referendum.

"Let me say that I am embarrassed on how civic education was carried out. At one point we had to fight for the money for the exercise," said Mutula.

He said many people do not know the new Constitution bars State officials from holding foreign bank accounts, a move he said was likely to reduce corruption.

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