- Kenya's new draft constitution is getting closer an approval. President Mwai Kibaki today declared his support for the draft, shouldering with MPs from Prime Minister Raila Odinga's party and many MPs from his own Party of National Unity (PNU). But a minority is still halting the process.
President Kibaki in a speech today gave his support to the draft constitution, tabled by the Parliamentary Select Committee. He said the new draft was in line with the Naivasha consensus that resolved the conflict between his PNU and Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
In the Nairobi parliament, a majority of MPs is in favour of the new constitutional draft. This includes Mr Odinga's ODM, but also many MPs from the President's party PNU.
Nevertheless, the process towards a new constitution foresees an even broader majority in parliament. The failure to introduce a new referendum through referendum in 2005 led to an agreement that the new proposal should be defined by a broad consensus before presenting the draft to the public in a poll.
But the long process is taking its toll, and Kenyan political leaders are losing their patience with the continued opposition to the draft. President Kibaki's party holds the ODM is "sabotaging the process of consensus building and scuttling the efforts" by insisting on a quick approval of the constitution. Meanwhile PM Odinga answered by saying it was the PNU that was sabotaging the process by further delaying it.
Also President Kibaki indicated this today, although in more diplomatic words. "This is no time for political gimmicks but time to give Kenyans a new constitution," President Kibaki said, adding the development of the country "will move faster for the good of all once the new constitution is in place."
But as there is no consensus in sight, PNU MPs today proposed parliament should rather make a retreat next week to allow renewed discussions about the draft with an aim of reaching a broader agreement. The proposal seemed to have a good chance of succeeding.
The PNU is uncomfortable with a powerful senate which has powers to impeach the President, as outlined in the draft constitution. Meanwhile, the ODM wants the proposed constitution adopted in its current form as soon as possible.
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