Activist loses bid to change date for signing new laws

Friday August 20 2010

By RICHARD MUNGUTI [email protected]

Activist Nazlin Umar Rajput lost her bid to have the new Constitution proclaimed on August 20 (Friday).

A five-judge bench dismissed the entire petition filed by Ms Rajput on August 13, 2010, as “misconceived”.

In a short ruling, the judges said: “The petitioner had applied to have the promulgation date of the Constitution be declared August 20, 2010. That prayer is misconceived. We dismiss the entire petition. We shall give our reasons on August 24, 2010, 2.30pm.”

Those who sat during the afternoon session are judges Violet Mavisi, Jamila Mohammed, Scholastica Omondi and Sankale ole Kantai.

Mr Justice Samuel Mukunya did not sit.

Ms Rajput had appealed to the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court to make several declarations, among them an order for the release of census results.

Ms Rajput, who vied for the presidency during the 2007 General Election, told the bench that she was not challenging the results of the referendum but wanted the court to declare the decision by President Kibaki to set August 27 as the date for proclaiming the new laws as illegal.

Give interpretation

According to Ms Rajput, the extension of the date is a contradiction to what is provided for in the new Constitution.

She believes there is need for the court to give constitutional interpretation of conflicting articles and clauses within the new laws.

Even as she said she was not challenging the results of the referendum, Ms Rajput sought an order to declare that failure by the State to fully educate the public on the new Constitution led many to supporting it.

The activist wanted Prime Minister Raila Odinga blocked from taking oath of office, saying his office was not in the new Constitution as it was a transitional one.

Also sought by Ms Rajput was an order to compel the AG to provide her with all international treaties and agreements signed by the government. She particularly wanted the one signed by the Sultan of Zanzibar and the State.

At the same time, novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o warned Kenyans against expecting quick solutions to their problems from the new document.

Speaking one day after launching his autobiography, Dreams in a Time of War, Prof Ngugi said the new Constitution would remain a piece of paper if efforts and resources were not directed towards its implementation.

“A new Constitution does not mean that poverty will end, or that there will be no slums,” he cautioned.