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Sunday, May 30, 2010

THIRD FORCE

A group of youthful MPs has emerged as the most steadfast advocates of the Proposed Constitution in the face of dithering by a section of the old guard.

They have upped their rhetoric and candour in facing up to the ‘No’ camp, including the Church.

Among them are Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa, Garsen MP Danson Mungatana, Kinangop MP David Ngugi, Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri, Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, Laikipia West MP Nderitu Mureithi and Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire.

As the big boys jostle for a platform for 2012 campaigns through the draft, there is talk of a possible third force emerging from this group.

During last week’s PNU Parliamentary Group meeting at KICC, some of the MPs expressed their disappointment by what they termed as lack of leadership from PNU leading lights, and vowed to take matters in their own hands.

Eugene, who has emerged as one of the vocal voices in this group, posed last week: "Bomas draft had provisions for a run off but we shot it down because it was 80 per cent good and 20 per cent bad. Had we passed it, the 2008 violence would not have happened. Is the Church saying we go to 2012 elections without dispute resolution tools, despite the 2008 experience?"

Ngugi, who is also convenor of small parties caucus in PNU said: "New leadership has to emerge to replace the old. The frontrunners are not leading; new leadership can fill the vacuum. We will deliver central region for the ‘Yes’ to send a convincing message we know what is good for the region and the country."

He added: "The draft promises radical tools to address inequalities, tribalism, corruption and impunity. Even the Church, unless they have a hidden agenda in teaming up with forces of impunity, arguments about abortion and Kadhis’ courts are not worth throwing away the many redeeming features promised in the draft."

Mungatana, who is Narc-Kenya secretary general and chairs the Parliamentary Reform Caucus, is among those who have been working to keep the reform momentum on track, especially when it was threatened by bickering between PNU and ODM.

He says the struggle is between status quo and struggle for a new beginning for the country.

"This struggle dates back to colonial times. The proposals in the draft are what the Mau Mau fought for. Each time we demand change, equity and justice, the forces that thrive on inequalities, injustice and impunity hold us back. I believe the draft will liberate and lay foundations for a peaceful, just and prosperous society," he says.

Kiunjuri has warned those who are sulking that the ‘Yes’ campaign is aiding Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s presidential ambitions: "There are no two ways about it, you are either facing the PM or take flight."

During the inaugural ‘Yes’ rally at Uhuru Park two weeks ago, he broke ranks with those tap dancing around the Church’s opposition to the Kadhis’ courts, warning the Church they risk being viewed as a bully harassing an Islamic minority group over issues that do not affect it.

"Many non-Christians, Muslims included, are compelled to endure many Christian rituals like observing Christmas and Easter holidays inbuilt into the civic calendar of public affairs without complaining. If we follow the Church’s argument about equality, we should as well make Friday, the Muslims’ prayers day, a public holiday like Sunday," he remarked.

After the PNU PG meeting last week, three MPs — Kioni, Mureithi and Mbarire — for the first time issued a statement condemning unnamed ‘turncoats’ " who are singing ‘Yes’ by day and ‘No’ by night".

PNU MPs rarely criticise each other in public.

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