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Faction Threatens Parallel Review

By Chege Wa Gachamba and Maguta Kimemia, The Nation (Nairobi), 25 March 2001

Nairobi - A break-away faction of the Ufungamano Initiative yesterday threatened to launch a rival constitutional review process.

However, official Opposition leader Mwai Kibaki told off those criticising the merger between the Ufungamano and parliamentary initiatives announced on Wednesday.

Mr. Kibaki appealed to wananchi to give their views when Prof. Yash Ghai's Review Commission starts work in July.

The DP chairman reiterated his party's position: "We will not backtrack on our commitment or liaise with those who want to form their own initiatives."

The faction - comprising the National Convention Executive Council, Muungano wa Mageuzi, Citizens Coalition for Constitutional Change and Safina, among others - are in the group that refused to endorse the merger clinched on Wednesday.

They want to introduce a parallel review "aimed at making the review process truly people-driven".

The faction set for Thursday a meeting of "like-minded stakeholders" to discuss what they termed pertinent issues not addressed in the merger framework.

The merger framework is contained in two Bills which were published on Thursday and are likely to debated in Parliament early next month.

The two are the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2001, and the Constitution of Kenya Review (Amendment) Bill 2001.

"We shall try, as an option, to lobby our colleagues in Parliament and friends (elsewhere) to have these views included in the Bills," said Kabete MP Paul Muite.

Consultations were still going on, said the faction, which brings together 16 Ufungamano stakeholders, during a news conference at a Nairobi hotel.

"If the changes we propose are rejected, we shall institute a truly people-driven constitutional review process which will run parallel to the one to come from a fraudulent merger," the faction said in a statement read by NCEC co-convenor, Dr Gibson Kamau Kuria.

However, they did not give the venue of Thursday's meeting, nor the finer details of how they plan to fund and carry out the rival review.

"We are not opposed to a merger per se. But we shall stay out of an Executive-and-Parliament-driven review process," they said. They would not pretend to support "a fraudulent, undemocratic and illegal vote, and a defective constitutional review process - unified or not.

"We are under no illusion that the results expected by Kenyans will not be realised through this process. Its subsequent constitution will only help perpetuate the current political and economic instability".

They took issue with the "unprocedural and high-handed manner" the Rev Mutava Musyimi, the convenor of Ufungamano's Steering Committee, conducted the Wednesday meeting at which a majority of stakeholders voted for the merger.

In a keynote address to members of 60 civic education groups, the RPP secretary-general, Mr. Cyprian O. Nyamwamu, expressed concern over "actions of bad faith and malice being used by some actors and organisations to malign pro-change groups and individuals in Kenya".

The group claimed that President Moi had suspended the country's constitution. That was why Kenyans were denied constitutional freedom to associate.

Copyright 2001 The Nation. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).