Accessibility links

Kenyan Leaders Discuss Constitutional Reform

Kenyan political leaders have concluded a retreat to harmonize their position on political reforms including a new constitution.

The two-day cabinet retreat held at the coastal city of Mombasa ended on Saturday with an outline of a clear road map on how disputes over the new law are to be resolved, according to a statement issued after the retreat.

The retreat in Mombasa was basically to drum up consensus and put all cabinet members on the same page and show unity in line with the thinking of the people, said David Ohito, a senior political reporter with the Kenyan newspaper, The East African Standard.

“It was aimed at gaining support of errant Kenyan ministers and to ensure a common position on critical matters like constitution review,” he said.

A draft [constitution] will be published on Tuesday, he added, plus “the retreat also sought to drum up support for the creation of a special tribunal which will try suspects of the post-election violence.”

Ohito noted the obstacle of “sharing of executive authority between the President and Prime Minister.” There was a technical committee nominated by both sides of the coalition, and this committee had drafted a position paper that was to be presented at the retreat, he said. “But there was disagreement and they [cabinet] agreed that the committee present only an informal report.” He said “essentially that means there are some obstacles that the cabinet has to overcome in order to achieve a new constitution.”

Ohito noted that although President Mwai Kibaki would not run for re-election because of the constitutional term limits, the Prime Minister Raila Odinga has expressed interest in running for office. “Interesting, Odinga’s team wants the powers of the president reduced – that means he wants reduced powers for that office should he ascend to it in the next election. It is the other team of [Mwai] Kibaki/ [Uhuru] Kenyatta that is opposed to trimming of presidential powers. They want an imperial presidency,” he said.

Ohito pointed out that the people at the grassroots have been involved through representation. “Actually what is in the draft constitution is about 80% of what the Kenyan views were two years ago.”

Because of constraints of money, he said, a committee of experts was used to avoid going around collecting views. “However, after the draft constitution is published on Tuesday there will be a 30-day period for the public to factor in issues they feel are important.”

<!-- IMAGE -->