Several amendments watered down the constitution
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Several amendments watered down the constitution

Kisumu : Kenya | Aug 03, 2010 at 9:49 AM PDT
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SIR CHARLES

By George Okore:

After independence, sharp differences emerged between erstwhile strong friends- President Jomo Kenyatta and his vice-president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga on how the ruling party KANU would govern Kenya. The party’s constitution was written almost single-handedly by Ojino Okew, who unfortunately killed in accident the same day the manifesto was launched. Unable to agree on a number of political issues, both strong headed men could not agree on the contents of the party’s and national constitution.

While the President and his supporters were for capitalism, the Leftist groups allied to the Vice-president were Communists. These were Makhan Singh, Pio Gama Pinto, Bildard Kaggia, Vicky Macharia, Dennis Akumu, Joseph Murumbi, Fitzval de Souza, Pranlal Shah and Okello Odongo among others. In order to reduce Jaramogi’s influence, KANU amended its constitution during infamous Limuru Conference of March 13, 1966, creating eight regional party vice-presidents. These were Mwai Kibaki (Nairobi), Lawrence Sagini (Nyanza), Daniel Moi (Rift Valley), Erick Khasakhala (Western) and Mohamed Ali Jubat (North Eastern). Others were James Gichuru (Central), Ronald Ngala (Coast) and Jeremiah Nyaga (Eastern).

Jaramogi resigned both from KANU and vice president in a huff, formed Kenyan Peoples Union (KPU). However constitutional amendment No 16 of 1966 required all members of parliament to seek fresh mandate from the electorate when defecting from the party in which they won the election. In the ensuing by -elections, Jaramogi successfully defended his Bondo parliamentary seat although KPU candidates performed dismally. However a commotion in Kisumu during the official opening of Russia Hospital led to proscription of KPU and Jaramogi placed under House arrest.

The Constitution of Kenya became political and though changed several time inn the name of the people, they were never consulted during the amendments. The Constitutional Amendment No 45 of 1968 required all presidential, parliamentary and civic candidates to be nominated by a registered political party. It was later consolidated to give president powers to appoint members of the Electoral Commission. After several changes amendments, the constitutional amendments No 7 of 1982 made KANU the sole legal political party in Kenya. Which means those who are not its members could not play elective politics. After several protest, Constitutional Amendment Act of 1991, restored Republic of Kenya to Multiparty democracy status. This allowed formation and registration of many political parties.

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