Cord Leader Raila Odinga consoles Former President Mwai Kibaki during the requiem mass for former first lady Lucy Kibaki at the Consolata Shrine in Westlands in Nairobi on May 4, 2016. Photo/Jack Owuor
Cord is planning to revive demands for a parliamentary system with an executive Prime Minister and a ceremonial President.
The opposition has been demonstrating every Monday since April for electoral reforms but a secret document seen by Star shows that Cord has much larger ambitions.
The draft document prepared by a team of Cord lawyers is due to be discussed by the Cord co-principals this month after which it will form the basis of the proposed negotiations between Jubilee and Cord over electoral reform.
The document lists a raft of proposals which Cord would like to agree with Jubilee before taking them to Parliament for debate and ratification.
The switch to a parliamentary system is the key change in the draft document but it also includes proposals that IEBC commissioners should be nominated by political parties represented in Palriament; that the number of electoral commissioners be reduced to five; that commissioners should be part-time and not full time; and that the term of office of commissioners should be staggered so that they do not all expire at the same time.
Cord Leader Raila Odinga has supported the idea of a parliamentary system since the time of the Bomas Draft Constitution in 2004 in which he played an active role.
In a parliamentary system MPs choose a Prime Minister who typically is selected by the largest party which also forms the government. The president then becomes a ceremonial head of state.
The new constitution was originally intended to create a parliamentary system but MPs switched to a presidential system in the Naivasha talks in 2010. ODM conceded to PNU on the matter although Raila still favoured an executive Prime Minister.
Jubilee politicians argue that Raila only argues for a parliamentary system to take power through the back door.
Many liberal democracies such as Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the Netherlands, and New Zealand use the parliamentary system. The presidential system is used in democracies like the United States and France.
Once the document is endorsed by Raila and co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula, it will be will be passed to the five Cord negotiators. The team was named on Thursday and is headed by James Orengo along with Eseli Simiyu, Johnston Muthama, Mishi Mboko and Junet Mohammed.
Jubilee has not named its team and has sent out conflicting signals about whether it will talk or not.
If Jubilee does not name a team to discuss electoral reform, the demos pushing IEBC reform are likely to continue. But the demand for a parliamentary system may become a central part of the Cord manifesto in the 2017 elections.
Cord believes that a parliamentary system would end the fratricidal wars Kenyans
experience every five years when electing presidents based on the “tyranny of numbers”.
“Each party would hope to control government either at the county or nationally, provided it won the majority. Where it cannot achieve a majority on its own, it would seek a coalition with others and produce the Prime Minister as leader of government at the national level,” says the draft proposal.
The document also argues that the present Cabinet is weakened because the ministers are not politicians. Cord also wants to see ministers answer questions in Parliament.
The Cord document argues that the current presidential system does not provide sufficient checks and balances.
Over the last year during the Okoa Kenya campaigns Raila Odinga has several times called for a referendum to change the constitution and create a parliamentary system
Kisumu Senator Anyang Nyong’o says the presidential system was accepted in 2010 by William Ruto, now Deputy President but then the ODM team leader in Naivasha, and ODM had no choice but to accept it.
“We are simply rekindling the demand for the parliamentary system that has always been there in the agenda of the Second Liberation. It had been achieved in the Bomas Draft Constitution but was mutilated in Kilifi before the referendum of 2005. It was smuggled out of the 2010 draft through the Naivasha ‘deal’ and we had to accept that fait accompli,” Nyong’o told the Star this week.
Jubilee leaders are not impressed by Cord’s resurrection of the demand for a parliamentary system.
“Raila fervently fought for a parliamentary system of governance right from Bomas I, Bomas II and through to Wako Draft process,” Central Parliamentary Group leader Dennis Waweru said this week.
“But all that changed in 2010 when both sides of political divide arrived in Naivasha for the constitutional talks. Raila was cocksure he was going to bag the presidency in 2013 and was salivating at the largesse of a presidential system. He could not resist the allure of it. Let him live with it now,” said Waweru.
(+) MPs look at
The Legal Affairs committee in the National Assembly is itself about to unveil several amendments to the Elections Act including the reduction of the number of IEbC commissioners from eight to four on a part-time basis. A bipartisan panel will appoint the commissioners and conduct public hearings in all 47 counties for consultation. The MPs proposed that the seven-member panel have three persons nominated by the Public Service Commission while political parties will nominate the other four — two from the Majority and two from the Minority. They also want to make it mandatory for MPs to hold a bachelor’s degree and for MCAs to have post-secondary