The Catholic Church, through its Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) will undertake a countrywide civic education on the Harmonised Draft Constitution of November 2009.
During a Catholic Media Houses’ press briefing on November 18, 2009, a day after the Harmonized draft was released for public debate, the Bishop Chairman for the CJPC, Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth said this was to enable Kenyans make informed choices.
“Justice and Peace Commission is committed to continuing to engage the Catholic Bishops, Clergy Religious, Laity, Dioceses, Deaneries, Parishes and Small Christian Communities in this process of Constitution making. We want a document that will establish an order based on truth, freedom, justice and the Common good of all Kenyans,” he said in his statement.
The Archbishop of Kisumu termed the window opportunity granted for the public to debate the draft as ‘too short’.
According to the time frame given by the committee of experts, the debate on the document is to go on for 30 days, beginning from the moment the draft was released to the public on November 17, 2009, after which the Committee of experts will take 21 days to put together the issues raised from the debate, before submitting the same to the August house for Parliamentary debate.
“Because of the timeframe, we shall do what we can within the capability of CJPC,” said Archbishop Okoth, “we want the debate on this harmonized draft constitution to go on exhaustively.”
The Archbishop said the Bishops conference would be meeting soon to ‘understand the draft better’, and only after then will the bishops give their common input on the document.
Terming the time for new constitution as ‘Now’, Archbishop Okoth urged for sober discussion on the document. “Let us have a constitution that will serve us and the future generations,” he said.
On the public debate he said: “The ball is now in our court as citizens and we urge all Christians to engage with process. We should read the document, discuss and share it. By knowing what is in the document we empower ourselves to make enlightened decisions. We should also take up the responsibility of empowering others to make informed choices.”
“We want a document that will establish an order based on truth, freedom, justice and the Common good of all Kenyans.”
He applauded the efforts by the committee of experts ‘to ensure that we are informed and can participate in the process of constitution making.
“It is a positive sign that brings us closer to the dream of a new constitutional dispensation for Kenya. We would also like to take this opportunity to appreciate the Committee of Experts and their efforts,” he said.
Despite what Nzamba Kitonga, the chairperson of Committee of Experts that was made up of experts from within and without Kenya termed as ‘numerous challenges’ during the launch of the Harmonized Draft Constitution at the Kenya International Conference Centre (KICC) on November 17, 2009, it took 9 laborious months to come up with the document.
The draft was published through the media on November 18, 2009, and is currently within the public domain for debate.
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