Politics

Uhuru: Constitution needs changes

Uhuru: Constitution needs changes

Summary

  • He added that the Constitution was adopted on August 27, 2010 with the promise that it would be improved in future.
  • Mr Kenyatta described all of Kenya’s constitutions as “ceasefire” documents.
  • Mr Odinga said Kenyans should be bold in acknowledging the failures and the areas the Constitution has not worked.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has reiterated his stance that time has come to amend the 2010 Constitution, warning against attempts to succumb to the paralysis of rigidity.

The President said the crafters of the document fashioned it as work in progress.

He added that the Constitution was adopted on August 27, 2010 with the promise that it would be improved in future.

“Ten years later, the moment to improve on it is now,” President Kenyatta said in an address to the nation Wednesday afternoon.

“We must treat a constitution as a living document that must constantly adjust to emerging realities.”

10 years

He made the remarks from State House, Nairobi, on the eve of the country marking 10 years since the Constitution was promulgated.

Mr Kenyatta described all of Kenya’s constitutions as “ceasefire” documents; agreements created to dodge confrontation and civil conflict because they represent a constant argument between the past and the present.

“Ten years after our progressive Constitution, the moment calls us to do better. Instead of a ceasefire document that enforces a zero-sum game in which the winner takes it all, the moment calls us to create a constitutional order that will last long,” the President said.

“On this, I want to emphasise that we must not take the populist path.  Let us choose the bold route; that path that will assure Kenyans of sustained peace and security and shared economic prosperity.”

The calls to amend the country’s supreme law were echoed by Mr Kenyatta’s predecessor Mwai Kibaki, together with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga.

Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga were in charge of the coalition government when the Constitution was promulgated.

Mr Kibaki, the Party of National Unity (PNU) leader, was the President while Mr Odinga was the Prime Minister.

“Ten years on, largely inspired by international trends enabled by easier access to information and ideas, Kenyans have to be open to what the political and socio-economic realities the 21st century demand,” Mr Kibaki said.

“That is precisely why we cannot afford to cast the 2010 Constitution in stone. The very spirit that led Kenyans to seek a new constitutional dispensation should be invoked in seeking amendments that will capture and deliver the best possible for everyone.”

Mr Kibaki added that every society, at some point, undergoes a crossroads.

Executive architecture

“At such times, careful soul searching becomes all important. The promulgation of the Constitution shared no less a backdrop,” he said, but added that as the nation reflects on the progress it has made under this Constitution, Kenyans should be thankful that they have a near-at-hand experience to refer to.

“What needed to be done in 2010 was done. However, the need to maintain the tempo of regeneration of our nation should be viewed as a continuing pilgrimage. That way, we are sure to keep Kenyans connected to a common purpose that will make us greater as a people,” he said.

For his part, Mr Odinga said Kenyans should be bold in acknowledging the failures and the areas the Constitution has not worked.

“It is the wrong time to become defensive and proffer positions that do not give Kenyans practical solutions but rather seek to find fault and place blame,” Mr Odinga said, adding that the document was crafted after many years of push and pull, marked sometimes by violent confrontations.

“But it is when we decided to embrace one another and seek consensus rather than conquest that we started making headway. We must discuss the current challenges in that same spirit of engagement and consultation, not discord and confrontation.”

One of areas Mr Odinga identified as not having turned out as expected is the architecture of the Executive, especially the American style presidential system of government.

The ODM leader said the system has alienated the government from its people.

He added that it has become a challenge for both Houses of Parliament to oversee the President and his Cabinet Secretaries.

“We remember the days ministers were required to directly submit statements to the full House and be questioned in front of the citizens on the way they were discharging their duties,” Mr Odinga said, adding that the period is nostalgic to many.

“There is also the confusion of roles between the Executive and the Legislature in budget-making. That has seen the representatives edge out the government of the day in decisions on allocation of money to State programmes.”