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Identify, punish saboteurs of law review

By | May 28th 2010 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

It is inconceivable there is anyone within the borders of Kenya who is not aware of the seriousness with which the Government is according the push for a new constitution.

The President and the Prime Minister have come out strongly and unambiguously to lead from the front. The two Grand Coalition principals have whipped their respective parties in crusading for a ‘Yes’ vote at the August 4 referendum.

The collective national attention is riveted towards the new set of laws.

Granted there are dissenters to several clauses, chief among them, abortion and the right to life, land ownership and tenure and Kadhis’ Courts, but there is overwhelming desire to move the debate forward.

Two days ago, no less than the chairman of the Committee of Experts, Mr Nzamba Kitonga warned Kenyans to be on the lookout for saboteurs to the constitution review process.

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Similar concerns were echoed by Narc-Kenya and ODM Secretaries General, alluding to powerful, shadowy forces trying to bring the 20-year-long quest for a new constitutional dispensation to a grinding halt.

It is, therefore, not surprising when police apprehended five people carrying a pick-up loaded with copies believed to be of the Proposed Constitution for destruction in Nairobi.

Even as the arrests were being made, top security chiefs met under the National Security Council at the Office of the President to discuss the security implication and possible fallout of Monday’s controversial High Court judgment terming the entrenchment of Kadhis’ Courts in the current Constitution unconstitutional and discriminatory to non-Islamic faiths.

Mystery alterations

Even to the untrained eye, it is not rocket science to notice that there seems to be a concerted and deliberate attempt to frustrate a legitimate, costly national exercise. There have been too many coincidences to ignore.

First were mystery alterations to the final Proposed Constitution at the ‘secure’ Government Printer to reflect a position that was not negotiated during drawn out deliberations on the document by various stakeholder, including a parliamentary committee, legal experts, public discourse and of course harmonisation with previous drafts.

Kenyans were promised an in-depth police investigation that has either quietly fizzled out or reached a dead-end.

The Ministry of Finance continues to withhold Sh300 million meant to fund civic education by the Committee of Experts, even as the clock ticks away towards voting day. The money is a vital component of this exercise given the yawning gaps in sensitisation and level of misinformation witnessed across the country.

As if these were not enough, a High Court ruling presided over by three Christian judges, sat over a ruling on legality of Islamic courts, spawning from a 2004 court case.

The acrimony and polarisation it has triggered is what spurred the security chiefs to meet and plan for any ugly situation the judgement may have set in motion. Other arms of Government starting with the Attorney General have reacted quickly by dismissing the judgement and filing an appeal to perhaps expunge it from the public record.

The President and Prime Ministers’ parties highest organs have consulted to save a potentially ugly situation.

Also, a veteran crusader for Kenya’s liberation from the yoke of the Independence Constitution, Gitobu Imanyara has filed a Motion to discuss the judgement and further asked the President to convene a tribunal to debate the conduct of the judges to ascertain there was no element of bad faith.

Sovereign will

All political party leaders have come out to condemn any attempt to derail the law review at this penultimate stage. Considering the importance of the matter at hand, it would be criminal to use unconstitutional means to derail the law review.

The process is a creature of Parliament under the Constitution of Kenya Review Act, containing the sovereign will of the people, giving it life until a referendum for determination. Criminal acts of sabotage should attract jail terms. Nothing less would do.

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