Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga has warned of attempts to derail the implementation of the Constitution by senior government officials.
He said the officials in question were frustrating efforts to establish key institutions required to implement the Constitution and warned that such attempts will not be tolerated.
“As I monitor our activities as government, I sense some resistance by individuals to the establishment of the institutions required to carry our constitution forward,” the PM told senior government officials including several ministers and representatives of the various bodies charged with implementing the Constitution during a special PM’s roundtable to evaluate the status of the implementation process Wednesday.
“We cannot and must not entertain this. We must not allow the dreams of our people to be deferred a second time in our life time and we should all know why,” he asserted.
He reminded all public servants that they had an obligation to develop policies not because they fulfilled their individual desires but because the Constitution required them to do so.
“No financial obligations can be too high for the implementation of the Constitution. No individual gains or fears can be so important as to stand on the way of the Constitution. No institutions can be too important to be reconstituted, reformed or dismantled as directed by the Constitution. These are realities we can only ignore at great peril,” the PM warned.
Mr Odinga's concerns yielded an immediate positive response from government officials present at the function who promised to ensure that all the institutions that are required to usher in the devolved government will be in place by March 2013.
“I have a firm commitment that all the key institutions that support devolution will be in place by March 2013,” the PM announced at the end of the session.
He announced that the recently constituted Transitional Authority will be sworn in next Tuesday to start its work and assured that it will be supported in delivering on its mandate by the Ministry of Local Government which was represented at the session by acting minister Fred Gumo and the Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi.
The PM also got a commitment from the Ministry of Planning that it will immediately conduct a poverty survey to obtain data that will be used in the allocation of resources to the devolved governments. Funds for the survey, the PM was told, have been set aside by the Treasury in the 2012/2013 budget.
The Attorney General Githu Muigai, on his part, told the gathering that Chief Justice Willy Mutunga had already constituted a team of senior judges to exclusively handle election matters while the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) confirmed that it had adequate funds to conduct a free, fair and credible General Election.
“I want the IEBC to make unequivocal commitment here that it is ready to conduct a free, fair and credible election, not to tell us this or that,” the PM had demanded.
The gathering was, however, told that the electoral body was encountering challenges in ensuring that Kenyans in the diaspora participate in the next election.
The challenges included the registration of diaspora voters. The IEBC, however, assured that it had already set up teams to investigate election offences and hired prosecutors to deal with such cases.
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere assured the PM that the force would ensure that the General Election is conducted in a peaceful atmosphere. He disclosed that 500 police officers would be trained to monitor elections.
He, however, expressed concern about the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to deal with election offences committed in the diaspora.
“How do you deal with election offences committed in the diaspora?” the police boss posed.
Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa also expressed concern that conflicts in the running of the coalition government and the entrenched culture of impunity among the political elite was derailing the implementation of the Constitution.
He also singled out the personalised political interests preceding the General Election and the ethnicised political climate as some of the challenges facing the constitution implementation process.
"These challenges heavily affect service delivery in government. This collective unit should seek workable and effective proposals to overcome these challenges and implement the remaining phases,” he urged.