Agriculture minister William Ruto and five other ODM MPs on Sunday vowed to oppose the draft constitution if some amendments are not effected. Roads minister Franklin Bett also said that Kenyans would vote against the draft constitution if regional governments are not included in it.
Kanu leaders also added their voice the debate by threatening to mobilise party supporters to reject the draft during referendum unless contentious issues are ironed out. Party Secretary General Nick Salat said clauses such as abortion, land and creation of new regions were among those that should be amended to reflect the wishes of majority.
The leaders spoke as MPs prepare to take their differences on the draft constitution to Parliament this week when they vote on the document. Parliamentary Select Committee on the law review vice-chairman Ababu Namwamba on Sunday said MPs would on Wednesday debate and vote on proposed amendments.
And on Thursday, the House will conclude debate and take the critical vote to either approve or reject the draft. Mr Namwamba said the House requires 65 per cent or 145 MPs to amend the draft and a simple majority to approve or reject it. By last week, more than 19 amendments on devolution, kadhis courts, abortion, land and the tenures of Chief Justice, Attorney General and Controller and Auditor General had been presented to the National Assembly Clerk.
On Sunday, reports said there were more than 50 proposed amendments. In Nyeri, 14 PNU legislators differed over the suggested changes.
Led by assistant ministers Peter Kenneth and Kabando wa Kabando, the leaders failed to agree on whether Parliament should approve the draft as presented by the Committee of Experts or amend it. Mr Kenneth, the Planning and Vision 2030 assistant minister, urged his colleagues to pass the new constitution the way it is, saying there was room for amendments later.
Mr Kabando, the Youths and Sports assistant minister, said a new constitution would compel the government to settle the internally displaced. But Molo MP Joseph Kiuna said Parliament had mutilated the draft drawn by the CoE. The MPs were speaking at a funds drive at Gathinja Secondary School in Kiharu, Murang’a East District.
Energy minister Kiratu Murungi said PNU’s stand was that if MPs could not agree on the changes, the House should approve the document as it is. “We want to avoid the 2005 referendum scenario and speak with one voice,” he said. “It is not the time for oranges and bananas.”
And the Orthodox Church said it would reject the draft if the clause on abortion was not amended. Addressing a Palm Sunday service in Nairobi, Archbishop Makarios Tillyrides said ‘in the eyes of the Orthodox Church, abortion is outrageous’.
And in Kisii, Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula, assistant minister Richard Onyonka and Kitutu Masaba MP Walter Nyambati opposed the creation of regional governments, saying it would divide Kenyans on tribal lines.