afrol News, 19 April - Kenyan opposition leader Micah Kigen says that Kenyans should be given space to carefully read and understand the draft constitution and make their own decisions after civic education on the crucial issue, instead of being influenced by leaders to chart a particular course.
Addressing the press, Mr Kigen asked Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Agriculture Minister William Ruto not to drive the local citizenry on a euphoric atmosphere similar to the one that swept the country in 2005.
"President Kibaki and Raila are ambushing Kenyans by asking them to vote for the draft instead of allowing them to make a decision after receiving civic education. The interim Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) has given Kenyans 60 days to study the draft before the referendum vote," stated Mr Kigen.
He added: "What these leaders are doing is utterly wrong! Already, they have hit the campaign trail by influencing Kenyans to say 'Yes' to the draft. [Minister] Ruto too, is influencing people to say 'No' to the draft. Let the people decide what stand to adopt from an informed position after carefully reading and understanding the draft, and after civic education," the opposition leader urged.
Mr Kigen also urged the church to avoid getting dragged into unnecessary hullabaloo over the nagging draft question but instead pray for the country and for the leaders, without insisting that it will influence its flock to vote against the proposed constitution at the referendum, owing to the clauses on abortion and the Kadhi courts.
Kenyans, Mr Kigen stressed, were not gullible but were "sober enough" to make their own decisions as long as they were allowed to carefully read and understand the draft constitution.
"The role of the church is to pray for the country and to offer spiritual nourishment to mankind. Who will take the men of the cloth seriously if they come out wildly in confrontation, and with barrels blazing, the way our politicians are doing?" posed a concerned Mr Kigen.
At the same time, he called on President Kibaki and PM Raila not to use state machinery and resources in their "current task of influencing Kenyans to vote for the draft." The adoption of a new constitution was not a matter to "joke with" since the set of laws was for the benefit of all Kenyans as well as posterity, Mr Kigen emphasised.
He also urged the government to print enough copies of the draft so that they could be easy of access to all Kenyans. Mr Kigen also contended that the government should be encouraging people to plant their farms "with the same vigour it was urging them to vote for the draft since the country was in a planting season."
Distraction from planting, Mr Kigen warned, did not augur well for Kenya since agriculture was the backbone of the country's economy.
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