Raila, Kibaki begin work on new laws

Monday August 9 2010

Stephen Mudiari | NATION Prime Minister Raila Odinga leaves Harambee House in Nairobi, where he held a meeting with President Kibaki on Monday. It was the first meeting the two principals held since the passing of the new Constitution last Wednesday.

Stephen Mudiari | NATION Prime Minister Raila Odinga leaves Harambee House in Nairobi, where he held a meeting with President Kibaki on Monday. It was the first meeting the two principals held since the passing of the new Constitution last Wednesday. 

By BERNARD NAMUNANE [email protected]

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday set the ball rolling on the implementation of the new Constitution, voted for in a referendum last Wednesday.

State House announced the new Constitution would be signed into law on August 27 after a three-hour meeting between the President and Mr Odinga at the President’s Harambee House office.

The date of promulgating the constitution is one of the issues discussed, the Nation was informed.

House prepared

In Parliament, Speaker Kenneth Marende said the calendar of the House might need to change to absorb the heavy workload. But he was confident that the House was sufficiently prepared to pass the many laws required on time.

An elaborate signing ceremony at Uhuru Park, to which foreign leaders and dignitaries will be invited, is being planned.

The two principals are reported to have agreed that the Implementation Commission as well as the Parliamentary Oversight Committee, which will be critical to the implementation of the new constitution, be formed immediately.

Such an agreement is of course easier said than done: a lot of jostling both for positions and political advantage is expected to accompany the appointments.

The House Business Committee, the powerful team that controls the agenda of Parliament, is meeting on Wednesday to begin discussions on who will sit on the implementation committee.

The committee is chaired by the Speaker because Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga could not agree on the Leader of Government Business, who normally chairs the committee.

Persons who attended Monday’s meeting, but are forbidden to discuss its contents with the media, said the President and the Prime Minister will co-chair the implementation process.

49 Bills expected

Deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta is reported to have attended the meeting.

To bring the new constitution fully into effect, 49 Bills will have to be enacted by Parliament.

On Monday, Attorney-General Amos Wako appealed for the speedy formation of the commissions so that the legal drafting work can begin.

“I appeal that these commissions be set up on priority basis and not the 90 days as specified in the new Constitution. If we wait, they could delay the processing of the Bills,” he said by phone.

Mr Wako said that while his office had been given the task of drafting the laws, he needs the commissions.

“It will be very difficult to process the Bills because I am required to draft them in consultation with the commissions,” he said.

Lobbying for appointments to the commission and the committee were in high gear with coalition partners — the Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement — pushing for their favourite candidates to fill the seats.

More attention was being paid to the Implementation Commission, whose members will have a five-year term. It will be composed of eight members and a chairperson.

The members are required to have experience in administration, human rights and government and their job will be to monitor, facilitate and oversee the development of legislation and administrative procedures required to implement the new constitution.

They will also work with the AG and the Law Reform Commission (LRC) in drafting the Bills.

The commission will report to the House Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, which basically takes over from the Committee of Experts (CoE) that was instrumental in the drafting of the new Constitution.

Said Ms Njoki Ndung’u, a member of the CoE and who is not allowed to sit on the commission: “We are now working on how we are going to hand over to the commission. We disqualified ourselves from membership, but if they need advice, we will be available.”

Through the Implementation Oversight Committee, Parliament will have a say on the implementation of the new constitution by monitoring the work of the commission.

Even though its membership is not fixed in the new Constitution, political parties are expected to share out the slots like they did with the Parliamentary Select Committee on the constitution chaired by Mr Mohamed Abdikadir.

“It is not yet settled, but it will be large enough to accommodate various view points and small enough not to have the entire Parliament on board,” said Mr Abdikadir, the Mandera Central MP.

By resolving to co-chair the entire implementation of the new Constitution, the President and Mr Odinga will follow closely the working of both the commission and the oversight committee to ensure that the timelines set for enactment of the 49 Bills are met.

The Harambee House meeting agreed on a joint Parliamentary Group meeting of all MPs to urge them to cast aside differences, which cropped up during the referendum campaigns and swiftly pass the Bills.

The Parliamentary Group, among other issues, will be expected to formalise the resolutions of the Harambee House meeting which listed reforms in the Judiciary as the first step in enactment of the new Constitution.