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Kibaki and Raila rally their parties behind ‘Yes’ campaign

Monday May 10 2010

President Mwai Kibaki (right) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at a previous function. Photo/FILE

President Mwai Kibaki (right) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at a previous function. Photo/FILE 

By BERNARD NAMUNANE

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga will on Tuesday meet leaders of parties with MPs in Parliament in an attempt to rally them behind the ‘Yes’ campaign.

The meeting comes as the Committee of Experts launches a 30-day countrywide campaign to educate the public on the contents of the proposed constitution.

It was understood that the President and the PM, who are leading the ‘Yes’ team, had chosen to use leaders of parliamentary parties to bring on board MPs opposed to the proposed law.

A statement from the Presidential Press Service said the meeting with top leaders of 15 parties will start at 10.30am at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

Among the party leaders expected at KICC are those from the Orange Democratic Movement, Party of National Unity, ODM-Kenya, Kanu, Narc-Kenya, Safina, Narc, Ford Kenya, New Ford-K and Sisi Kwa Sisi.

The others are leaders of Chama Cha Uzalendo, Ford Asili, Kaddu, Kadu Asili and People’s Democratic Party.

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Joint secretariat

The meeting will discuss the modalities of setting up a joint secretariat that will coordinate the ‘Yes’ campaigns and how the parties will use their countrywide network to marshal support at the grassroots level.

The government is facing opposition from Christian churches, which have vowed to lead the ‘No’ campaign after talks to strike a deal on contentious issues in the new set of laws failed.

They launched the ‘No’ campaign at the weekend at Uhuru Park in Nairobi and on Monday, Catholic bishops were meeting in Karen to strategise for their campaign.

The Church is opposed to the section of Article 26 which empowers doctors to end a pregnancy if it endangers the woman’s life or she needs emergency treatment.

Christian leaders are also opposed to the retention of kadhi’s courts in the proposed constitution under Article 169 and 170, which limit their authority to disputes over personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance, where all the parties are Muslims and agree to take the case to a kadhi.

They have been joined in the ‘No’ campaign by a team of ODM leaders from the Rift Valley led by Higher Education minister William Ruto.

Others in the ‘No’ campaign include Kaddu leader Cyrus Jirongo and Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi of Kanu.

The proposed constitution was published last Thursday.

However, before the real duel starts, the CoE has a 30-day period to conduct civic education with the help of non-state actors.

On Tuesday, the experts will launch the exercise at KICC in preparation for the final phase in the review process.

‘The committee is expected to facilitate civic education on the proposed constitution for a period of 30 days (after its publication). The committee will launch various civic education materials tomorrow (Tuesday),” the committee said in a statement.

On Monday, the experts and the Mohammed Abdikadir-led Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution agreed that Kenyans would not use the Orange or Banana symbols during the referendum.

Registered symbols

They also resolved that none of the symbols currently registered by the country’s 47 political parties would be used.

“We have gone through all the symbols registered by the 47 political parties. We have resolved that we shall not use any of these symbols during the referendum. We shall also not use the Banana or Orange,” PSC vice-chairman Ababu Namwamba told journalists after the two-hour meeting.

The meeting was called to deliberate on the question to be asked during the referendum and to look at the symbols to be used.

The law governing the constitutional review requires that the IIEC consults with PSC on the symbols to be used and the question to be asked during the referendum.