Kenya PM seeks tolerance, unity over new law

Sunday August 8 2010

Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga. FILE|NATION

Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga. FILE|NATION 

Prime Minister Raila Odinga Sunday asked for tolerance and unity as Kenya goes about implementing the new constitution, which should be in place in the next two weeks.

He said the 'Yes' team is magnanimous in its victory at last Wednesday’s referendum and would work with those on the 'No' team in the implementation of the laws.

Speaking during a service at the All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi, Mr Odinga compared the journey to a new constitution to the 40-year migration of the Israelites to Canaan as told in the Bible.
“We are now in Canaan. The bigger task is reconstructing Caanan and we must work together. This is the task we must undertake together as Kenyans,” said Mr Odinga.

He said differences of opinion had been expected over the new laws before the referendum and light-heartedly equated those against them to the Pharaoh of Egypt, who changed his mind after allowing the Israelites to leave.

“We had differences of opinion, there were so-called contentious issues but nothing made by man can be perfect,” he told the congregation.

He equated the new constitution to a vehicle fresh from the assembly line, saying it would not be expected to have a few imperfections despite the long and hard work taken to put it together.

Mr Odinga said the Orange Democratic Party, the party he heads, had also had to drop their proposal for a parliamentary system of government under the new order.

“We must move on, because if we do not, we’ll not be a country,” he added.

He praised Kenyans for voting peacefully and for showing the world that “Kenya can rise from the ashes like the phoenix and become one of the greatest countries on earth.”

Incidentally, he attended a service at the same cathedral on June 27 before undergoing an operation to relieve pressure inside his head the following day.

He did not field questions from journalists. The PM was accompanied by his wife Ida Odinga, ministers Otieno Kajwang’ (Immigration), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Medical Services) and Dalmas Otieno (Public Service).

Others were assistant ministers Oburu Odinga (Finance) and Magerer Lang’at (Energy). Former Attorney General Charles Njonjo was also present.

Mr Kajwang’ said the Cabinet and Parliament must now rush to put in place the new laws required to make the new constitution operational.

Asked whether the ministers who opposed the laws should be dropped, the Mbita MP said it should be left to the two principals- Mr Odinga and President Kibaki- to decide.

“There are those who think they have a constitutional right to disagree but there are also some who think they defied a Cabinet decision to oppose the document,” he however said.

Mr Otieno struck a more conciliatory tone.

“That is no longer an issue. We are not looking back and nobody is carrying over the debate from before the referendum,” said Mr Otieno.

He said ministries charged with implementation of crucial Acts under the new constitution should be prepared to do so immediately they are passed by Parliament.

Attorney General Amos Wako leaves office within 12 months of the new constitution’s coming into force and Mr Njonjo had a few words for his successor.

“He should be guided only by the law and have tunnel vision when it comes to legal matters. He cannot afford to be partisan in his ways,” said Mr Njonjo.