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Politicians plot to bring back office of prime minister

Kenyans could once again be saddled with the position of a prime minister if politicians have their way in carving the Constitution.

Jubilee and Nasa, however, may not succeed in clipping the powers of the Judiciary, which has been making rulings that have raffled political feathers.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, ODM chairman John Mbadi and Lugari MP Ayub Savula on Monday said suggestions had been raised over the possibility of amending the Constitution to introduce a hybrid system of government, which has positions of both president and prime minister. The current system is purely presidential.

Mr Duale said that even though the Jubilee top leadership had not met to discuss amendments to the governance structure, there have been various suggestions on how leaders who lose elections should be treated better, away from the current situation where the winner takes it all.

“We have not met as Jubilee to agree on the direction we ought to take in dealing with any serious gaps that have been cited in the Constitution,” said Mr Duale, the Garissa Township MP. “When that time comes, we shall make our official stand known.”

Mr Mbadi, on the other hand, said ODM was pushing for a Parliamentary system before Kenyans went to the referendum because the party believed that a presidential system was not good for a developing democracy.

“In a competitive society which has many ethnic communities, you need a government of inclusivity. The presidential system breeds exclusivity if not properly managed, like is the case in Kenya,” he said.

He argued that the current Parliament is not as independent from the Executive as it was envisaged in the Constitution, which has made it difficult for the Legislature to promote accountability.

“A pure presidential system of governance is completely misplaced for such developing democracies as ours as it excludes communities and is not accountable,” said Mr Mbadi.

Mr Savula said Nasa supports a suggestion that a referendum should be held 90 days after elections to seek Kenyans’ backing to change the Constitution.

“Other communities don’t feel part of this government. We need at least five senior positions at the top that will accommodate more tribes to have an all-inclusive government and enhance cohesiveness,” said Mr Savula.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri started the governance debate last weekend when he accused the courts of working with the Opposition to sabotage the government.

PUSH FOR REFFERENDUM

Mr Kiunjuri, who is a close associate of President Kenyatta, said Jubilee would push for a referendum to tame the Judiciary and change the system of governance from the current presidential system to a hybrid one.

Speaking in Nyeri on Sunday, he claimed that the Opposition was pushing for amendment of the Constitution in a bid to get a soft landing should they lose the August elections.

“A section of leaders from the Opposition didn’t support a hybrid system and instead opted for a presidential one thinking they would win the 2007 elections. Now they have too many candidates who want a share of the government and the only way they can do it is through this system,” said the Devolution CS.

Mr Kiunjuri said Jubilee would support them, but said it would still win in either system.

The new system will, if Kenyans approve it, see the positions of prime minister, deputy prime minister, and vice-president returned, besides ministers and their assistant being appointed from sitting members of Parliament.

The choice of the system of government was one of the thorny issues during the constitution making process. Even though the original draft by the Committee of Experts had recommended a parliamentary system, MPs met in Naivasha and changed it to a presidential system in which the president, the deputy president and members of the Cabinet are not MPs.

On Monday, senators Billow Kerrow (Mandera) and Hassan Omar Hassan (Mombasa) dismissed those behind the push to change the system of governance, saying it was based on rewarding politicians.

“I don’t favour an amendment that seeks to suit a political matrix of certain tribes, so that everybody can see their man and woman in the matrix. The problem of our politics is ethnicisation,” said Mr Hassan.
Mr Kerrow said it was selfish for the political class to write a constitution that serves their personal interests.
“We can’t amend the Constitution to create job opportunities for the political class. Kenyans knew what they wanted when they opted for the presidential system of governance,”
“We can’t create opportunities for coalitions and the political class at the expense of majority of Kenyans,” said Mr Kerrow.

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