Bernard Gitau @benagitau
Catholic bishops have thrown their weight behind calls for a review of the Constitution with the possibility of restoring the position of prime minister.
Through the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) , they however said Kenyans must have the final say on any constitutional changes. Led by the Archbishop of Kisumu Zacchaeus Okoth, the bishops said the debate on constitutional changes should be part of a structured national dialogue.
“The debate about the prime minister’s post should be considered but it should be among other issues that Kenyans want reviewed,” said Okoth. Archbishop Okoth who, is one of the 14 advisers appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga to steer dialogue under the Building Bridges Initiative, also welcomed Uhuru’s unity deal with Raila.
“The handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the former Prime Minister has opened doors for Kenyans to dialogue and define the Kenya they want,” he said.
Okoth said God had inspired the handshake and the subsequent public apology by the President, saying it would help stabilise the country after a tense election season. “We have been calling for constructive dialogue all along and we have been vindicated by the current happenings.
Let us support our leaders in taking the dialogue to the next level,” he added. Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka termed the President’s apology during his State of the Nation address on Wednesday as an act of courage. “It is not easy for a leader to seek forgiveness. I commend the President,” said Lusaka.
Okoth and Lusaka were speaking at Hekima University College during the launch of Healing and Reconciliation: Mercy and Justice Embrace report by KCCB and the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
On Labour Day, Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli also joined the growing clamour for amendments to the Constitution. Atwoli suggested that President Uhuru should be accommodated in a position in government when his second term ends in 2022.
The debate has caused sharp divisions on the political arena with Deputy President William Ruto opposing changes while former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is leading the calls of a referendum on the Constitution.