As the country marks the 10th anniversary of the current Constitution, President Uhuru Kenyatta restated his stand for an urgent amendment of the constitution.
The President revealed the crafters of the document fashioned it as work in progress.
He added that the Constitution was adopted on August 27, 2010 with the promise that it would be improved in future.
“Ten years later, the moment to improve on it is now,” President Kenyatta said in his 11th address to the nation on Wednesday August 26.
“We must treat a constitution as a living document that must constantly adjust to emerging realities.” he added.
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 statement comes just a day after ODM leader Raila Odinga told Citizen TV that a referendum was still possible before 2022.
Uhuru described all of Kenya’s constitutions as “ceasefire” documents; agreements created to dodge confrontation and civil conflict because they represent a constant argument between the past and the present.
“Ten years after our progressive Constitution, the moment calls us to do better. Instead of a ceasefire 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 last long,” the President urged.
“On this, I want to emphasise that we must not take the populist path. Let us choose the bold route; that path that will assure Kenyans of sustained peace and security and shared economic prosperity.”
The loud and relentless calls to amend the country’s supreme law were echoed by Mr Kenyatta’s predecessor Mwai Kibaki, together with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga.
Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga were in charge of the coalition government when the Constitution was promulgated.
Mr Kibaki, the Party of National Unity (PNU) leader, was the President while Mr Odinga was the Prime Minister.
“Ten years on, largely inspired by international trends enabled by easier access to information and ideas, Kenyans have to be open to what the political and socio-economic realities the 21st century demand,” Mr Kibaki told the Daily Nation.
“That is precisely why we cannot afford to cast the 2010 Constitution in stone. The very spirit that led Kenyans to seek a new constitutional dispensation should be invoked in seeking amendments that will capture and deliver the best possible for everyone.”
Mr Kibaki added that every society, at some point, undergoes a crossroads.
“At such times, careful soul searching becomes all important. The promulgation of the Constitution shared no less a backdrop,” he said, but added that as the nation reflects on the progress it has made under this Constitution, Kenyans should be thankful that they have a near-at-hand experience to refer to.
“What needed to be done in 2010 was done. However, the need to maintain the tempo of regeneration of our nation should be viewed as a continuing pilgrimage. That way, we are sure to keep Kenyans connected to a common purpose that will make us greater as a people,” he said.
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 revealed 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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