Thursday, March 18, 2010


Coalition principals President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have now been called in to whip their respective camps into order and broker a deal on the constitution review process.

The principals will meet MPs on Tuesday following an initiative by House Speaker Kenneth Marende on Thursday.

The two principals will attend a Kamukunji at Parliament where MPs will be expected to make the final decision on how to handle the contentious issues.

On Wednesday evening, Marende proposed formation of consensus buliding team after MPs spent the whole day identifying contentious issues.The team of 23 comprises of seven from PNU and its affiliates, seven from ODM and another seven from the Parliamentary Caucus on reforms. The chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review Abdikadir Mohammed and his deputy Ababu Namwamba will be ex-officio members.

The Speaker was hopeful that the full consensus will be arrived at on Monday. MPshave thus extended the retreat by one more day.

“Their business is to collate and consolidate the views on areas of concern as raised by members of Parliament in the plenary,” said Mr Marende about the group.

The group was expected to work late into the night and present their report Friday morning for debate in the plenary with the members of Parliament. The workshop was initially planned to end Friday but will now see consultations extended to Tuesday.

Earlier new demands for regional governments and fresh redrawing of counties threw the consensus-building meeting off balance on Thursday, as MPs regrouped into regional caucuses to push for their positions to be entrenched in the proposed Constitution.

The meeting saw most of the party members play their cards under the table as they kept on filibustering on their respective stands on controversial clauses.

The presence of party think-tanks and lawyers at the venue raised eyebrows in the matter, and so was the fact that most MPs left long before the meeting was through with identifying the sticky issues.

For a while party positions took a backseat to give way to regional interests, with MPs lobbying their colleagues to back their stand for possible inclusion of their interests in the new law when debate begins in Parliament on Tuesday.

The push for a two-tier government took centre stage with some MPs calling for the scrapping of the counties to give way to regional governments, while another group sought to have county governments retained, but their number increased from the current 47 to a minimum of 74.

The huge cost of running a three-tier government is said to have been the reason behind this move.

This new development came up as MPs identified contentious issues in the draft law in their workshop at Nairobi’s Kenya Institute of Adminstration.

It was a hectic task that saw MPs go through the proposed Constitution clause by clause while randomly picking out what they thought were thorny issue in the day-long closed-door meeting.

Some members said that there were so many issues coming up, with at least each of the lawmakers coming up with what they were uncomfortable with.

But it was the push for federalism that appeared to knock the debate off course with MPs from the Coast, Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza insisting that equal distribution of resources will only be achieved through such an arrangement.

Their colleagues from Central Kenya and Eastern were said to be fiercely opposed to the push for majimbo arguing that in such a government, counties will be scrapped. Most of these MPs have been pushing for the number of counties to be increased to 74.

The legislators spent the better part of the morning consulting in their regional caucuses as it emerged that the fresh push for devolution was likely to be at the centre of next week’s debate in Parliament.

While some of the MPs were in the hall identifying the contentious issues, their colleagues walked out and were seen consulting in groups before they opened discussions on devolution.

Other issues that had been identified by Thursday evening as contentious were the clauses on the recall on non-performing MPs, the Kadhi’s Court, some transition clauses and the clause on independent candidates in presidential and parliamentary elections.

PNU chief whip George Thuo is said to have raised the issue of transition for discussion arguing that the National Accord should not be recognized in the new Constitution.

He was speaking in reference to the clause that requires the President and the Prime Minister to consult over appointments. The PNU position has been that since the document does not recognize the PM’s position, it does not make sense to give the PM a role in the implementation of the new Constitution.

Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode of ODM raised the recall clause as a thorny issue saying the provision contradicted another article that grants MPs a five year contract with the electorate. He argued that busy bodies would take advantage of the power.

Assistant minister Margaret Wanjiru raised the issue of Kadhi’s court saying it needed to be debated. The Starehe MP is among the Christian clergy opposed to the inclusion of Kadhi’s courts in the constitution.

Some PNU negotiators said that there were plans for a tradeoff between PNU and ODM with devolution and the Senate on one hand and transition on the other. PNU was said to be ready for a powerful Senate as long as ODM agreed that full implementation of the Constitution be done in 2012.

However, some ODM MPs dismissed the trade-off reports saying their earlier position stood that the draft be taken to the House for debate.

The change of heart appeared to have coming from the emergence that the North Eastern and Coast provinces were determined to have their own regional governments.

Coast MPs had on Wednesday night held a lengthy meeting at the Hotel Boulevard to discuss devolution and some of the controversial transition clauses. It is understood that they want the number of counties increased to at least 74.

The position of the Coast Parliamentary Group is that for the new Constitution will only be acceptable in the region, if it provides for the federal system. The move appeared to have given ODM a new strategy which saw the party announce on Wednesday that it now wanted a three-tier system of devolution.

The position of the Coast Parliamentary Group is that for the new Constitution will only be acceptable in the region, if it provides for the federal system. The move appeared to have given ODM a new strategy which saw the party announce on Wednesday that it now wanted a three-tier system of devolution.

The party also said that devolution must be in the form of power and resources where regions receive 20 per cent of the national revenue, counties get 10 per cent and the constituencies get 5 per cent.

Sources at the meeting also revealed that there was a suggestion to set the number of regions at 25 and also increase the number of counties. The counties, some of the MPs are said to have argued should have the same number of constituencies falling under them.

MPs such as Fred Kapondi and Wilfred Machage want some extra counties in Mt Elgon and Kuria. Their argument is that if the proposed counties are drawn, their people will be marginalized.

However, the difficulty in making changes to the document seemed to be dawning on the MPs with some of them indicating that they would not allow the review process to stall in the House.

No comments:

Post a Comment