- Jan 30, 2008
Draft: Kibaki, Raila deadlock again
By David Ohito and Beauttah Omanga
President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga
The two met the Coalition Management Committee, which is made up of representatives of Party of National Unity and Orange Democratic Movement, hours to today's crucial date in the country's new push for a new constitution
Today, the Committee of Experts (CoE) will present its final outline of the Harmonised Draft Constitution - enriched by the views Kenyans gave in the 30-day period their opinions were being sought - to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review. Sources privy the CoE said the experts had failed to agree on either Presidential or parliamentary governance model, forcing them to go for a similar proposal, as it was when they first unveiled the first draft at KICC two months ago.
The committee has, however, it is believed, given in to a unanimous demand by Kenyans that the regional assemblies are done away with, instead proposing a National Assembly with two chambers and a local county with direct election of chairman.
Other sources revealed the Kadhis courts still remain in the final draftdespite protests from a section of Christians. "The Kadhis issue was found to be a non-issue by the experts. We have had it in the current constitution and we saw no reason to delete it in the new proposed constitution," said the source.
The meeting at Harambee House, sources reveal once again hit the wall over PNU and ODM's long-standing disagreement on the structure of the proposed structure of Executive, which sets out two centres of power - the Presidency and the Premiership.
The two sides failed to reach a consensus on the matter just as it did in November's Mombasa's Coalition retreat as CoE Chairman Nzamba Kitonga announced his team was set for the release of the final draft incorporating views of Kenyans which PSC will use to build consensus within Parliament. "We have finalising our part today in readiness for the handing over to the PSC tomorrow," said the Chairman yesterday.
He ruled out requests by some politicians and groups for the unveiling of two drafts to be voted on in the arguing the law did not allow this. Kitonga said it would now be up to PSC to build consensus among Kenyans so as to ensure the draft was accepted ahead of the referendum.
The structure of the Executive has been a source of disagreement between the coalition partners with PNU leaning towards a powerful presidential system and ODM preferring a parliamentary system headed by a Prime minister.
The Harambee House meeting that was to adopt a common ground by the top coalition leaders encountered hurdles and ended in a huff.
In the wake of fresh disagreements, an earlier agreement reached over a hybrid system of government was abandoned as the principals bought time to see what the Nzamba Kitonga-chaired committee has to publish.The CoE is expected to unveil its amended final draft today, which factors in changes proposed by Kenyans.
The meeting at the President's office, our sources revealed, agreed to let PSC handle outstanding contentious issues and build consensus on the proposed new laws.
Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo was consequently tasked to lobby PSC on Constitution review and to push forward its retreat to Wednesday to allow the Coalition Management Committee to first examine what CoE will release today.
The management committee is therefore expected to hold its meetings on Monday and Tuesday next week.
Sources privy to the goings on at the meeting intimated to The Standard the hybrid system of government was opposed by PNU's team: Cabinet ministers Beth Mugo and Moses Wetangula as well as the President's advisor on constitutional matters, Prof Kivutha Kibwana.
Inside the meeting it was reported there were hot exchanges over what kind of requirements would be needed to endorse the new laws by Parliament.
The ODM team led Deputy Prime minister Musalia Mudavadi, Lands minister James Orengo and the PM's advisor Mr Miguna Miguna told the meeting all that would be required of Parliament to pass or reject it was a simple majority vote. They argued this was so because what would be taking place would not be, "Constitutional amendment
Sources revealed Orengo insisted the powers to ratify a new constitution lay with the people of Kenya and not Parliament.
He is said to have referred to an earlier ruling by Justice Aaron Ringera, which recognised the people of Kenya as the ones who can ratify a new constitution not Parliament.
"Parliament cannot arrogate itself powers to ratify a new constitution," Orengo told the meeting.
During discussions, the principals asked the Head of Civil Service Mr Francis Muthaura to work out how the joint secretariat on Coalition Management will be operationalised and be funded to effectively carry out its mandate. The committee has had teething problems and lacks structures to carry out its mandate as envisaged within the coalition ranks.
Yesterday Kitonga said: "Our mandate is clear that we were expected to merely harmonise the drafts. There was no provision for many drafts from which Kenyans will decide".
He declined to divulge details of what the final draft will look like saying, "Kenyans should wait for all the details tomorrow when we hand over to the PSC at 10 am."
After today's presentation at the Old Parliament Chambers, PSC chaired by Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed, would proceed for a two-week retreat to interrogate it.
By yesterday CoE was reported to be still toying with the formula of sharing of power between the President and the PM and what roles a Vice President would play in a devolved system of governance as well as the deputy PMs.
Fear of conflict of interest between the OP and OPM remained sensitive even to the experts who opted to leave it hanging until later in the day.