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Abortion issue led Church to oppose 2010 Constitution

By Rawlings Otieno | August 30th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Loopholes in the draft 2010 Constitution that appeared to legalise abortion is what prompted Kenyan churches to unite and reject the document.

Back then, the Church teamed up with the then Eldoret North lawmaker William Ruto (now the Deputy President) to rally Kenyans to vote ‘No’ against the supreme law.

The then Head of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Eliud Wabukala also opposed the draft as it allowed Muslim courts and was liberal on abortion and same-sex relationships.

Of concern to the churches was Article 26(4) which provides that "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 written law."

However, the Church was of the view that the weak drafting of the clause, especially the last two parts, could allow for it being used to enact laws or justify on-demand procurement of abortion.

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Looking back 10 years on, Kenya Council of Church Alliances and Ministries (KCCAM) formerly Kenya Church Ministers Forum said they still maintain their stance.

Kepha Omae, the KCCAM chair, said the 2010 Constitution's 10th anniversary offers a good opportunity for reflection.

Clarity

“We still stand with what we said then. This tenth anniversary of the Constitution now offers us a good opportunity to take stock and reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t and use the lessons to inform the future,” Omae said.

Equally, the church was also against the establishment of Kadhi's courts which they argued discriminates against all other sectors of society.

The church leaders observed that for clarity on the separation of religion and State doctrine, and equality of religion, the Kadhí's courts should not be in the Constitution.

“We say no to the proposed Constitution as it is unless it is amended to answer concerns about justice and equality for all religions, the limitation of fundamental rights based on religion, the protection of the right to life and the supremacy of our constitution in the light of International conventions and treaties,” ACK said in a statement then.

At the time, a section of the political leaders also rejected the then draft Constitution especially the Executive structure saying the country was not ripe for a pure presidential system of government.

Cheranganyi MP Joshua Kuttuny, who was in the ‘No’ camp then, said they still maintain their stand.

“We still stand by what we said in opposing this Constitution. I am happy that the proponents of the document then have seen what was wrong and needs to be changed,” Kuttuny said.

Kuttuny said the ‘No’ camp called for the establishment of a hybrid system of government and the creating of the Leader of Official Opposition in Parliament.

He added that there is need to have the Leader of Official Opposition in Parliament to check the President and his Cabinet on the running of affairs of the government.

“We were not ready as a country to have a pure presidential system. We knew that the president will always come from a populous ethnic group leaving out other smaller groups. We proposed the hybrid system,” he said.

Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga has proposed the creation of regional governments as proposed in the Bomas Draft to make regional governments economically viable.


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