Thursday, August 26, 2010

Friday’s most critical event also its shortest

Uhuru Park in Nairobi on Wednesday, the venue where the promulgation ceremony which will take place on Friday.  TOM MARUKO | NATION

A section of Uhuru Park in Nairobi on Wednesday, the venue where the promulgation ceremony which will take place on Friday. TOM MARUKO | NATION 

By OLIVER MATHENGE omathenge@ke.nationmedia.com

With the stroke of his pen, President Kibaki will not only have changed the way Kenya is governed but also alter the socio-economic landscape.

The head of state will have repealed the old constitution. However, some provisions will continue to operate until the new laws are enacted. Immediately after signing, President Kibaki will lead the Cabinet in taking a new oath of office and another committing to uphold the new constitution.

Others expected to take the oath on Friday are the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, the Chief of General Staff, the Police Commissioner, the Administration Police Commandant and the Speaker of the National Assembly.

Right to employment

The Speaker will then administer the new oath of office to MPs. Chapters that come into effect immediately include the Bill of Rights. It states that every Kenyan has a right to such basics as clean water, decent housing, sanitation, and an adequate supply and quality of food.

The Bill of Rights is expected to ensure a better life for the almost 50 per cent of Kenyans living below the poverty line. Every child has the right to compulsory and free basic education, healthcare, shelter and nutrition. The right of the youth to access employment and training is also entrenched in the constitution.

The State as well as relatives are obliged by the new law to take care of the older persons in the society. From Friday, the police cannot arbitrarily arrest someone or search private property. They are now required to explain to the arrested person, in a language that they understand, why they need to arrest them and their right to remain silent.

If an offence is punishable by a fine or an imprisonment of less than six months, the suspect cannot be held in custody. Once the president signs this document, every Kenyan has the right to access any information they need, held by the State or any other person. They also have a right to have information on them corrected immediately.

Another official language

Kenyans will enjoy fewer national days, which will be observed as holidays. There will only be three national days – Madaraka Day (June 1 ), Mashujaa Day (October 20) – formerly Kenyatta Day and Jamhuri Day (December 12). This means that Moi Day (October 10) and Labour Day (May 1) are no longer constitutionally recognised as national days.

Kiswahili becomes the second official language after English. Previously, Kiswahili was just a national language. This means if one is not conversant with English, they can use Kiswahili, for instances when applying for a job, officially.

Children born to a Kenyan citizen outside the country are recognised as citizens. This also applies to those who may have been born outside the country before August 27 even if their parents had dumped their Kenyan citizenship.

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