Experts defend date for Kenya's new law

Friday August 13 2010

Committee of Experts chairman Nzamba Kitonga. The team has defended the date set for the new constitution to come to effect. Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

Committee of Experts chairman Nzamba Kitonga. The team has defended the date set for the new constitution to come to effect. Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE 

By WALTER MENYA

The panel that drew Kenya's new Constitution has defended the August 27 date set for the law come into effect.

The Committee of Experts (CoE) chairman Nzamba Kitonga said the President was within the law to promulgate the new Constitution on the appointed date.

President Kibaki will lead the nation on Friday, August 27 in an elaborate ceremony at Nairobi's Uhuru Park to officially usher in the new Constitution. The President has declared the day a public holiday.

The date falls 21 days since the Interim Independent Electoral Commission announced the results of the referendum on August 5. The choice of the date has been criticised especially by politicians and Church leaders who campaigned against the approved constitution, arguing that the review law allows 14 days after gazetting the results.

But Mr Kitonga said the IIEC was yet to formally gazette the final results.

“From what the Interim Independent Electoral Commission chairman said, the figures that he announced on August 5 were temporary pending any petition before counting the 14 days within which the President must promulgate the Constitution.”

Final Results

He added that he expected the IIEC to gazette the final results anytime between August 21 and 22.

The CoE boss was speaking in Inside the Constitution, a talk show on NTV. University don Prof Peter Wanyande and lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo who were members of the panel also concurred. So was Dr Stephen Karanja of the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association who campaigned against the new Constitution.

But lawyer Charles Kanjama disagreed saying that the President had negated the spirit and letter of the review law.

“August 20 was the proper date but the President’s decision n to hold the ceremony a week later shows a continuation of impunity into the new era,” he said.

Mr Kanjama said the argument that the first 14 days were left for anybody to file petition was an unsatisfactory explanation.

“It is clear that for one to challenge the results of the referendum, the same must have been gazetted so what more gazettement are we talking about?” he wondered.

Prof Wanyande and Mr Waiganjo observed that discussion on the date of promulgation was but a tactic by the 'No' campaigners to distract Kenyans from a more important process.

“Discussions of the date of promulgation is a non-issue that does not excite any Kenyans. The President is rightly within the law ad he is doing that to allow for resolution of disputes that may arise,” said Mr Waiganjo.