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Kenyan Legislator Holds High Hopes for Newly Drafted Constitution

  • Peter Clottey

A Kenyan lawmaker says the newly drafted constitution scheduled to be tabled before parliament Tuesday will unite all Kenyans.

A Kenyan lawmaker says the newly drafted constitution scheduled to be tabled before parliament Tuesday will unite all Kenyans.

Boni Khalwale, chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, says legislators will need to focus on resolving the sticky issues Kenyans have been pointing out since the beginning of the constitutional draft process.

“The situation in the country and specifically in parliament is upbeat. Everybody wants to see exactly in what form the draft will look like. Members of parliament are now sensitive to some of the sticking issues that the public has been pointing out. And I’m sure we will endeavor to reach consensus on most of them,” he said.

Kenya’s media reports that a Parliamentary Select Committee on the constitution review met Monday in Naivasha to scrutinize the draft constitution after receiving the document from a committee of experts.

Kenya's parliament

Kenya's parliament

Khalwale expressed confidence that Kenyans will have a new constitution.

“I have gone through it and I’m satisfied. But even if there would be opposition, that opposition will not have enough numbers to defeat the constitutional process at the level of the referendum. So I’m sure we shall have a new constitution,” Khalwale said.

An assembled Committee of Kenyan Experts published the “Harmonized Draft Constitution” on November 17, and Kenyans have 30 days to review and suggest changes.

The draft scheduled to be submitted to parliament for approval Tuesday reportedly paves the way for a national referendum in mid-2010.

Khalwale said the draft constitution will be better than the previous one.

“The only assurance I can give them (Kenyans) is that we have gone through what we have discussed, and what we had agreed on is that we might have one or two things that people might not quite like. But generally, the draft is far way better than the current constitution that has been steering the country for the last 45 years,” Khalwale said.

U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is quoted as saying the United States is “committed to supporting the Kenyan people’s efforts to implement their reform agenda.” Secretary Clinton said recently, “I encourage all Kenyans to use the 30-day comment period to engage in a constructive and substantive dialogue on a new constitution.”

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