Tough work begins as Kenya passes new laws

By Mark Oloo in Nairobi  – With Kenya having approved a new constitution in a referendum last week, the East African nation is now walking a tight rope towards implementing the new laws.

Yesterday, Parliament reconvened to discuss the legal framework needed to guide the transition from the old constitution to the new order.

The ruling coalition is now expected to form Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committees to steer the enactment of the new constitution, which was endorsed by 68 per cent of voters in the referendum, widely praised as credible and peaceful.

President Mwai Kibaki has set August 27 as the date the new constitution will be promulgated. This will be done at a ceremony in the capital, Nairobi.

Parliament Speaker Kenneth Marende said the House diary was full but expressed optimism MPs will pass the requisite within the time frame stipulate by a national accord signed in February 2008.

The accord was signed when former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan brokered a deal that gave birth to the ruling coalition, following a disputed presidential election in 2007.

The election dispute shuttered the political landscape of Kenya, resulting in violence that killed more than 1,300 people and displaced about 10,000 families.

But as succession politics take centre stage ahead of the next General Election in 2012, the implementation of the new laws may not be without mistrust and suspicion within the ruling coalition.

While Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have showed leadership by holding the country together, more still needs to be done to make their lieutenants work together.