Elections and the Constitution of Kenya. Many in Kenya, and around the world, are very anxious about the March 4, 2013 general elections. The anxiety is understandable as the disputed 2007 elections resulted in widespread violence; the death of over 1,000 people and the displacement of more than 300,000.
The noise in the political arena reminds many of the 2007 elections; some December 2012 pre-election coalitions have fallen apart and the January 2013 nomination process was largely chaotic.
Fear and noise threaten to diminish the gains of the last 5 years; most notably the 2010 constitution.
I believe that the new constitution is Kenya’s most important accomplishment after independence and lays a firm foundation for the next 100 years.
Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court Willy Mutunga in his dissenting advisory offers insightful thoughts on the the making of the constitution, its inherent flaws and strength as a framework to resolve problems.
“It is true the constitution will present the courts with inconsistencies, grey areas, contradictions, vagueness, bad grammar and syntax, legal jargon, all hallmarks of a negotiated document that took decades to complete. It reflects contested terrains, vested interested that are sought to be harmonized, and a status quo to be mitigated. These features in our constitution should not surprise anybody, not the bench, or the bar or the academia. What cannot be denied, however, is we have a working formula, approach and guidelines to unravel these problems as we interpret the constitution.”
Part 9.2 on page 37 of Chief Justice Willy Mutunga’s dissenting advisory on the opinion of the Supreme Court of Kenya in the matter on the principle of gender representation in the national assembly and the senate.
The March 4 elections are a critical step in the implementation of the new constitution and Kenyans should exercise their constitutional right soberly, and with much hope rather than fear.