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Kenyan lawmakers in bid to block draft constitution
www.chinaview.cn 2005-08-11 21:25:04

    NAIROBI, Aug. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- A section of Kenyan lawmakers moved to court on Thursday in a bid to block a planned referendum on a draft constitution which is currently undergoing a final drafting phase.

    The legislators, mainly from three key political parties, the opposition Kenya African National Union (KANU), the Saba Asili andthe Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from the ruling coalition, moved to the High Court seeking orders to block Attorney General Amos Wako from presenting the draft for the vote.

    KANU Secretary General William Ruto, the LDP Legal Affairs Secretary Otieno Kajwang and Saba Asili leader Kenneth Matiba saidthat their move was precipitated by President Mwai Kibaki's call for campaign for a "Yes" vote even before the drafters were through with the document.

    "We have decided to go to court to challenge the constitutionality of the entire constitution-making process and the referendum," said Kajwang after a joint parliamentary group meeting of KANU and LDP.

    The move came a day after President Kibaki met with key political parties under his government of national unity to drum up support for a "Yes" vote during the referendum scheduled for November this year.

    Ruto said certain sections of the constitution should have beenamended first before the new draft bill is passed in a referendum.

    An informal sitting of parliament radically amended the draft constitution in July, reducing the proposed prime minister's powers and increasing the president's powers.

    The parties are seeking orders to bar the attorney general frompublishing the draft constitution, whose passage in parliament sparked a public outcry with civil society organizations dismissing it as "unacceptable to Kenyans."

    Some Kenyans argued the draft constitution creates "an imperialpresidency" against the wishes of the majority who sought to have the office of the president tamed.

    The LDP wing of the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) agreed to back President Kibaki for a one-term in office on a pre-election pact in which they were to be given a prime minister's position.

    But the President Kibaki's allies have blocked the deal and mobilized lawmakers to radically cut down the powers of the prime minister's office, causing riots across the country.

    High Court Judge Jacktone Ojwang, who was handling the case under a certificate of urgency, was due to hear both arguments of the case and give a ruling on the orders later on Thursday. Enditem 

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