MPs have suggested more than 100 amendments in the first five chapters of the proposed constitution.
Key among the proposals is the reintroduction of regional governments and empowering the citizenry by indicating that Kenyans can use referenda to exercise their sovereignty. Others touch on the right to life, the Bill of rights and land.
However, these proposals will require a two-thirds majority if they are to be reflected in the document that comes out of Parliament on April 2.
The reintroduction of regions was proposed by ODM chairman Henry Kosgey, displaying the party’s renewed quest for a three-tier devolution system. The issue of regions has dominated the ongoing parliamentary talks at the Kenya Institute of Administration.
Mr Kosgey, who is the Tinderet MP, proposed that a new paragraph reading “the regional level” be added to the clause reading; “The sovereign power of the people is exercised at - (a) the national level; and (b) the county level”.
On abortion, Gender minister and Nyeri Town MP Esther Murugi proposed the deletion of the clauses on life beginning at conception and on termination of life. The minister wants the article on right to life to only read that “Every person has the right to life”.
Nyaribari Chache MP Robert Monda has proposed the clause be amended by deleting the words “or permitted by any other law”. Religious groups and pro-life activists have argued that the part could allow Parliament to legalise abortion.
Public Health minister Beth Mugo proposed that the word “abortion” be replaced with “termination of pregnancy”. Her Medical Services counterpart Anyang’ Nyong’o proposed that the constitution should not secure the right of Kenyans to reproductive health.
Another clause in contention was the one indicating that “there shall be no state religion”. Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru raised the issue, arguing that the constitution should “provide expressly” the separation of state from religion.
Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo proposed that the clause should read “Kenya shall be a multi-religious state” while Tigania West’s Kilemi Mwiria suggested that it says “Kenya shall be a secular state”.
Several MPs, including Internal Security minister George Saitoti and Defence assistant minister David Musila, also made proposals on clauses giving defence forces the same rights as ordinary Kenyans. These rights include holding demonstrations and going on strike.