Thursday, May 6, 2010

Clerics absent as Kenya draft law is published

A copy of the published draft constitution on April 6, 2010 at the KICC. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO

A copy of the published draft constitution on April 6, 2010 at the KICC. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO 

By PETER LEFTIE

Politicians and church leaders opposed to the proposed constitution were absent as Attorney General Amos Wako officially published the document on Thursday.

Save for Special Programmes minister Naomi Shaban, Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi, and Anglican Bishop Timothy Ranji, all the politicians who have voiced opposition to the document stayed away from the function attended by President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.

And even as he attended the function at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, which was turned into a platform to drum up support for the passing of the proposed constitution, Mr Linturi maintained his ‘No’ stand and described the rival camp as “dictatorial”.

“I will attend the prayers organised by the Church on Saturday to show my solidarity with it on the ‘No’ vote,” he told journalists after the function. The MP stated that the ‘No’ camp would educate Kenyans across the country on the document’s shortcomings.

“We will carry out civic education against the draft because it is not a preserve of the Committee of Experts,” he charged.

Higher Education minister William Ruto, the leading voice in the ‘No’ camp, was said to be away in West Pokot, alongside his Information counterpart Samuel Poghisio, who is also said to be opposed to the proposed constitution.

Mr Poghisio was quoted at the weekend saying his ODM Kenya party would not take a stand in the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns because it did not want to divide Kenyans, a statement that was later contradicted by the VP and the party’s secretary general, Mr Mutula Kilonzo.

Cabinet ministers at the function included Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr James Orengo, Mr George Saitoti, Mrs Charity Ngilu, Dr Sally Kosgei, Mr Chris Obure, Mr Dalmas Otieno, Mr Wycliffe Oparanya, and Mr Otieno Kajwang’. MPs Jeremiah Kioni and Eugene Wamalwa were also present.

Save for Bishop Ranji, who led the function in prayers, alongside Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims secretary general Adan Wachu, the church leadership was conspicuously absent. The Church has vowed to ask its followers to reject the draft constitution because it objects to clauses in the section on abortion.

Christian leaders are also opposed to the retention of kadhi’s courts in the proposed constitution under Article 169 and 170, which limits their authority to disputes over personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance, where all the parties are Muslims and agree to take the case to a kadhi.

At the same time, Rongai MP Luka Kigen on Thursday said the ‘No’ camp would not relent in its campaign against the draft. He insisted that the document contains serious flaws. Mr Kigen cited the chapter on land, saying it posed a threat to the stability of the country in future if it is not amended.

He said it was almost impossible to make the changes if the document is passed in the referendum. “We will push to the end because we believe that this document is not good for the country,” he said.

Additional reporting by Noah Cheploen

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