Is it a conspiracy against?
Updated 16 hr(s) 20 min(s) ago
By Oscar Obonyo
Two months to the August 4 referendum, there is panic and uncertainty as hitches hit the constitution review, with claims that powerful forces could be secretly working to scuttle it.
From “national Security” typographical errors to the controversial ruling on Kadhis’ Courts and now a scheme to destroy copies of the Proposed Constitution, the hurdles placed in the way of the process are major but not insurmountable.
President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the ‘Yes’ launch rally at Uhuru Park in Nairobi two weeks ago.
The Standard On Sunday has learnt that there are a raft of legal challenges lined up, including one revolving around the Interim Independent Electoral Commission’s (IIEC) recently issued voters cards. Attorney-General Amos Wako, speaking exclusively to The Standard On Sunday, warned of a looming “major war” over the review process.
“I was elated when I finally published the Proposed Constitution, for I knew the tough and rough constitutional journey was about to conclude. But I was wrong.”
The Committee of Experts (CoE), on its part, reads efforts to undermine and eventually scuttle the review process.
“There is a deliberate attempt by some forces to ensure Kenyans do not get copies of the Proposed Constitution to read for themselves,” said CoE Director Ekuru Aukot while commenting on reports of destruction of copies of the draft.
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo also alleges a grand conspiracy. “They are afraid of the revolution that is coming. But they are not brave to say no. They are hiding behind churches. If Treasury continues being intransigent, we will ask donors, including the business community to contribute to civic education.”
Wako now concedes tougher times lie ahead and declares his alertness and readiness to deal with emerging mischief and challenges.
Currently, there are two more cases lined up in court.
The argument on the voters’ cards is that they do not expressly provide for holders to participate in the referendum as it is specific to general elections.
The reading on the card states, “Entitled to vote at Presidential, National & Local Authority Elections”.
On Saturday, University of Nairobi political science lecturer, Adams Oloo, said the public mood was strongly in favour of the Proposed Constitution and forces against its realisation could only fight back through technical hitches, the courts and starving the Committee of Experts of civic education of funds.
“Those engaging in the undercover sabotage are cowed by the President and Prime Minister and can accordingly not come out in the open to exhibit their defiance,” observes Dr Oloo.
Speaking separately last Wednesday, Narc-Kenya officials alleged that “powerful forces” had plotted to defeat the review process.
“Which ordinary Kenyan will go to the Government Printer to change a clause in a highly secure environment? How, if not people with big money and power to open every door?” posed party Secretary-General Danson Mungatana.
To date, no arrests have been made and the matter seems to have died down.
Without naming names, Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua — who is also a former Justice Minister — said the saboteurs included “powerful landowners, businesspeople and political heavyweights with contracts in all facets of the economy”.
A source pointed at some of Kenya’s leading political families as among those financing the Churches.
Separately, the CoE said it had unearthed an elaborate scheme where copies of the draft constitution from its warehouses were being collected and systematically destroyed.
In the latest incident, CoE officials traced copies of the Proposed Constitution at a warehouse in downtown Nairobi.
By the time of going to press, it was still unclear why a heap of the crucial document was confined at the premises, but investigations intimated that copies were being burnt or sold as old newspapers.
What is more disturbing, according Dr Aukot, was the police appeared to be under intense pressure from “some powerful forces” to release apprehended suspects from custody.
The withholding of civic education funds has also been identified as one of the many hurdles the Proposed Constitution would have to surmount.
With their one-month long lamentations falling on the deaf ears, the team has petitioned Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura.
“It cannot be that somebody is simply being lazy. It can only be that this process does not enjoy support from some Government quarters,” said Aukot.
The official said the delay had hampered the roll out of the civic education programme by the CoE and allowed politicians to poison the ground by spreading lies and half-truths.
Going up in flames
“With the Treasury withholding operational funds, copies of the Proposed Constitution going up in flames and suspects of the same being shielded from facing the law, one cannot rule out a conspiracy,” says Aukot.
Reached for comment, the PM’s office downplayed the magnitude of the problem.
“I do not think the situation is so bad. While the PM, like everyone else is aware of the hitches, there is a feeling that some State organs as well as politicians are deliberately exaggerating the facts,” Dennis Onyango, the PM’s spokesman, told The Standard On Sunday on phone from London, UK, where he is accompanying Raila on official visit.
The “No” campaigners refute claims of the role of “powerful forces” in the current twists that have mainly slowed down the pro-Constitution side. Igembe South MP Linturi Mithika regards the goings on as “God’s miraculous works”.
Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto, a key ally of Higher Education Minister William Ruto, who is leading the ‘No’ camp, claims if there is anybody sabotaging the process then it is the CoE, itself. The MP maintains Kenyans are engaging in an illegality because CoE has two conflicting drafts under distribution.