Groups Sign Memorandum of Collaboration on Citizens Assembly for Constitutional Change in Kenya

The Citizens Assembly is scheduled to be launched at the YMCA in Nairobi on May 2, 2008, with representatives from each district and key sectoral groupings.
 
 
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April 9, 2008 - PRLog -- NAIROBI, KENYA— Several reform groups have joined forces to empower Kenyan citizens to become effective and equal participants in the ensuing constitutional reform process.

Bunge La Mwananchi (People’s Parliament), the Coalition for Constitutional Reforms -CCR-Kenya, Voluntary Youth Philanthropists, Muslim Human Rights Forum, Minciu Sodas Laboratory for Independent Thinkers (Lithuania and Global), Pyramid of Peace Initiative (Kenya), National Students Consortium, REPACTED Kenya, Kenya Young Greens, and Madaraka Party of Kenya have signed a Memorandum of Collaboration to establish a Citizens Assembly (CA), with a door left open, welcoming more partners.

“The ability to partner effectively with other individuals and organizations -- both inside and outside Kenya-- is absolutely essential to engage the citizenry effectively, “said the International Coordinator for CCR-Kenya, Tegi Obanda in Toronto, Canada.

Launch Date Set

The Citizens Assembly is scheduled to be launched at the YMCA in Nairobi on May 2, 2008, with representatives from each district and key sectoral groupings.
“After the launch, it (the Assembly) will seek audience with the relevant minister for constitutional affairs and parliamentary committee dealing with constitutional. reforms”, Obanda said.

Push for a New Constitution Within One Year

The nine-page memorandum explains that “this memorandum of collaboration is concluded with all organizations and institutions that agree with and conform to the vision and agenda of the Citizens Assembly, which is to help facilitate a people-driven constitution in Kenya within one year.”

It says it’s partners “are supportive of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreements mediated by Kofi Annan; seeks to promote the enactment of a new democratic constitution in Kenya; are aware of the frustration of constitutional reforms by politicians both in the executive and legislature; and therefore desires to cooperate in executing activities conducive to the development and implementation of a new democratic constitution in Kenya within the shortest time possible.”

“The CA collaborators have taken an approach that is all-inclusive rather than exclusive, allowing all Kenyans across the globe and across the country to come together and work for change and accountability in Kenya. The burden is on each one of us to do our part in ensuring that Kenya succeeds” said the CA US Chapter Coordinator, Ms. Ruth Mwangi in Atlanta Georgia.

“Recognizing the need to come together and taking the challenge to do so reflects strength, patriotism, and leadership. It is time for all Kenyans of goodwill to come together, and reach across the divide be it economic, academic, ideological or other in order to strengthen the national agenda for change and accountability,” Mwangi added.

“The Memorandum of Collaboration explains its objective as providing “the framework for collaboration, under which joint activities and projects would be undertaken and specific program areas agreed between these organizations and institutions”.

“Partners are expected to collaborate in (i) sharing agendas of common interest; (ii) pooling resources and expertise, where appropriate, to carry out research work or design and implement pilot projects; and (iii) sharing knowledge and ideas. Core Partners are Institutions, Community Organizations, NGOs, Religious Organizations, Government Departments, Corporations, Associations or Individuals.
Stakeholder Collaboration

Organizers envisage the CA as the main organ that brings together all stakeholders in the constitutional reform process: “We will network those with similar goals at provincial, district, and constituency and even ward levels so as to build grass root reach. The agenda is to capture the historical constitutional moment in our country, create an all-inclusive platform for all Kenyans to work together and thereby build a people power behind the constitution review process that will ensure that wananchi are not taken advantage of again,” explained the Facilitator of Bunge La Mwananchi (People's Parliament), George Nyongesa.

The Citizens Assembly will be managed by a Steering Committee, which will be composed of core members.

Bunge La Mwananchi (People’s Parliament) to Host the Assembly

The Citizens Assembly Secretariat is presently hosted by Bunge La Mwananchi, in Nairobi, Kenya.

The signatories include George Nyongesa (Bunge La Mwananchi Nairobi), Tegi Obanda (CCR-Kenya International Secretariat, Toronto, Canada), Ruth Mwangi (Kenya Citizens Assembly US Chapter, Atlanta, Georgia), Atha Achola (Consumer-First Network, Mombasa), Rachel Wambui Kung'u (Voluntary Youth Philanthropists, Nairobi), Dr Kiarie Mwaura, Queen's University Belfast, UK, and Al-Amin Kimathi Muslim Human Rights Forum.

Other signatories include Andrius Kulikauskas (Minciu Sodas Laboratory for Independent Thinkers, Lithuania and Global), Janet Feldman (Pyramid of Peace Initiative, Kenya; KAIPPG International, USA and Kenya; ActALIVE, USA and Global), Andronicus Sikula, Lawrence Onsano , Maryam Abubakar (National Students Consortium, University of Nairobi), Dennis Kimambo (REPACTED Kenya, Nakuru), and Peter Kironyoh (CCR-Kenya National Secretariat/ Madaraka Party).

Executive and Legislature told to Play Facilitative Role Only

In terms of process roadmap, the collaborative is vehemently critical of the recent suggestion attributed to a succession of the political class that the constitution should be reviewed by experts and passed by Parliament. “The people of Kenya had as early as 1992 resolved that they did not want parliament to reform the constitution for them” said Tegi Obanda, and “the constitution is a fundamental document that details rules of socio-economic and political cohesion of a nation; 30 millions Kenyans cannot risk their fate in the hands of a few-experts and 222 parliamentarians” added George Nyongesa.
 
The group blames the defunct Constitutional of Kenya Review Commission for the failure to of the reform process. “We hypothesize that Kenya’s democratic transition ground to a halt because there was no well laid-down process that delineated the step-by-step actions that would lead the people from point A, when they start the reform process to point B, when they had the new constitution enacted and implemented.” explains Tegi Obanda.

“Nearly all the focus of the now defunct Constitutional of Kenya Review Commission was on the content. They captured the people’s views, deliberated on them and made a very fine draft, popularly known as the Bomas draft. Then they handed the draft to parliament,” he added.

Obanda asserted that “for reasons only known to the commissioners, they told parliament to either accept the constitutional draft in Toto, or reject it in Toto. But they never explained what was to happen in case they rejected it. Yet, any casual observer of the Kenyan political scene could have known that parliamentarians were not keen on constitutional reforms.”

As members of the elite class that benefits from lack of accountability, transparency and participatory governance, they would fight with all their might to block any attempt to whittle down their powers.

“To hand over the constitutional draft to parliamentarians to pass would be like asking a thief to return all the goods he has stolen and the telling him to then walk into a police station that is unguarded lock himself up, take himself to court, try himself and sentence himself to seven years in prison, drive himself to prison and lock the gates. Thus the reform process was trapped in an exit-less circular tunnel.” Obanda said.

“The Citizen Assembly is formed to ensure that, this time, the constitutional reform process not only has the citizens as the drivers, but there is a way through the tunnel that leads to democratic governance, transparency and accountability”, asserted Obanda.

Website: ccr-kenya.com
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Tags:Kenya, Constitution, Politics, Reforms
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Location:Ottawa - Ontario - Canada
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