In Summary
  • This, it should be noted, will be before the scheduled 2022 elections.
  • Protestant churches called for creation of the post of prime minister, two deputies and official opposition leader.

Clamour for a referendum on amendments to the  Constitution, the 2019 national census and the delimitation of boundaries will shape the political environment in the next three years, even as the country grapples with the current standoff after the fresh elections.

Though both Jubilee Party and the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) seem to agree there is a need to review the Constitution, there appears to be no middle ground on specific articles that should be amended or the scope and scale of any proposed changes.

That will be a cause of friction for both sides post swearing in of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

ELECTIONS

Jubilee is considering floating the referendum issue in a few years — with sources pointing at 2020 as the proposed date —  but fears that despite the urgency to alter the supreme document, it may end up polarising the country, just like the 2005 one did.

This, it should be noted, will be before the scheduled 2022 elections.

The 2005 referendum ended up emboldening the opposition, led by Mr Raila Odinga, after they defeated a meek government campaign fronted by President Mwai Kibaki which had submitted a draft constitution.

According to insiders, Jubilee may shelve the idea of amendments through a referendum if they feel the process and eventual outcome may strengthen the opposition and weaken the chances of Deputy President William Ruto ascending to the presidency, should his candidature be confirmed as planned.

Jubilee strategists are, therefore, working on a formula that will incorporate the opposition for a bipartisan approach to the Constitution, arguing that seven years provided enough time for post-mortem of the law.

CONSTITUTION

“We do not want to engage in conflict but to have an honest relook of the Constitution and how best it can serve the people of Kenya. We cannot change this position to create posts for anyone,” said Mr Aden Duale, the Majority Leader in the National Assembly in an apparent dig at Nasa.

The opposition had in the run-up to the August 8 election proposed to change the Constitution to create room for all its senior leaders had it won the elections.

Mr Duale said a change-the-Constitution moment needs not be kick-started by the political class, suggesting that religious leaders can shepherd such a delicate process.

Sources in Jubilee, who spoke in strict confidence, said some issues that the parity would like to put on the table for a referendum include the gender question. They would like to do away with the provision that states that there should not be more than two thirds of any gender in all elected seats.

The party is also considering doing away with a number of the 15 constitutional commissions as some are seen as not having delivered on their mandate. The ruling party is also contemplating doing away with the provision where the Commander-in-Chief has to seek Parliament’s nod whenever he wants to deploy the military.

Then there is a proposal to revive debate on appointment of Cabinet Secretaries from elected Members of the National Assembly and Senate.

FRESH ELECTIONS

On Tuesday, Nasa leader Raila Odinga announced the formation of a people’s assembly to start preparing for fresh elections and amendment of the supreme law. 

He said the assembly would comprise elected leaders and key players from the civil society, trade unions and youth, and would push for amendments to the Constitution to ensure that Kenya is more democratic.

Mr Odinga further announced that the coalition would form a task force to look into systemic governance weaknesses that have precipitated the political crises.

Nasa principal Musalia Mudavadi said they would not be party to a top-down approach since past experiences had shown that such falter.

He gave examples of the failed Kilifi Draft in 2005, Naivasha mistakes in 2010 and Okoa Kenya referendum push, which he claimed was easily sabotaged for lack of ownership by the people.

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