Time to amend the Constitution is now, President Kenyatta says

Time to amend the Constitution is now, President Kenyatta says
File image of President Uhuru Kenyatta during an event in March 2020. PHOTO| COURTESY

As the country marks the 10th anniversary of the current Constitution, President Uhuru Kenyatta has restated his stand for an urgent amendment of the constitution.

Without giving any details, the President on Wednesday said the 2010 Constitution had served the country well but needed to be changed to align with new realities.

Uhuru Kenyatta was the first President elected under the new constitution, becoming the first bearer of the responsibility of implementing a document that had cost Kenyans’ sweat and blood.

And more than seven years after he first took the oath of office, the president is at the centre of a campaign to change that supreme law.

His speech on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the constitution was short on detail but heavy in meaning.

He said: “We must treat a constitution as a living document that must constantly adjust to our emerging realities.”

“Ten years later, the moment to improve on it is – NOW.  And as I said in my Madaraka Day Speech, we must not succumb to the paralysis of constitutional rigidity,” he added, giving a strong signal that he wants the document changed before the next General Election.

His statement coming just a day after ODM leader Raila Odinga told Citizen TV that a referendum was still possible before 2022.

President Kenyatta emphasized that the 2010 constitution while progressive in many ways was a ceasefire document following a tense period in the country.

“Instead of a cease-fire document that enforces a zero-sum game in which the winner takes it all, the moment calls us to create a constitutional order that will long endure,” said the President

The country is yet to see the final report of the Building Bridges Initiative that resulted from the President’s March 2018 handshake with the ODM leader, but the president says the changes must be far reaching and long lasting.

“I want to emphasize that we must not go for the populist path.  Let us choose the bold path; that path that will assure Kenyans of sustained peace and security, and shared economic prosperity,” he said.

Already several rallies had been staged in various parts of the country building up a momentum for a possible referendum, before the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proposals in the initial BBI report included adjusting the Executive structure to introduce a Prime Minister’s with two deputies who will sit in Parliament.

While Raila Odinga has voiced support for this proposal, the president has left the country guessing about his real desires in the new document, only insisting a change is necessary.

With only two years before his second and final term comes to an end, the president is racing against time to leave a favourable legacy in the face of a mixed record in the implementation of the 2010 constitution.

The 10th  anniversary will be a key moment of reflection not just for the President, but also for those seeking to document his constitutional record.

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Story By Stephen Letoo
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