Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta led the nation in marking this year’s “Heroes Day” on Tuesday by calling for a constitutional consensus that accommodates all communities and entrenches equity and national unity.
Kenyatta said constitutional consensus was key to entrenching equity and national unity and reiterated his caution against rigidity that breeds negative and divisive politics.
“Our Founding Fathers and constitutional heroes did not intend our constitutional order to enslave us. They constructed it to serve us. And when it ceased to serve us, we are meant to borrow from the example of our Founding Fathers and rethink it,” he said in Kisii County in western Kenya.
The president’s remarks come as debate is raging in Kenya on whether or not to amend the 2010 constitution, fuelled by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), a project aimed at fostering national unity initiated by Kenyatta and opposition leader, Raila Odinga.
Odinga, the High Representative for Infrastructure at the African Union who is working closely with Kenyatta, is reported to be determined to rally his supporters to support the change to the constitution.
A panel spearheading the BBI initiative picked by Kenyatta and Odinga has proposed reforms to end Kenya’s winner-takes-all political system.
Opinion is already divided with some Kenyans wanting the current constitution which was promulgated in 2010 to be implemented instead of amending it.
But Kenyatta said he advocates for a constitutional consensus that will secure the country’s democratic credentials without reaping apart the diversity of the Kenyan nation.
He urged Kenyans to weave a constitutional consensus around a three-pronged national question that addresses political inclusion, equity in the distribution of opportunities and resources as well as the contests and violence that occur every electoral cycle.
According to the Kenyan leader, the quest to liberate Kenya was fueled by the desire to drive hunger, ignorance, disease and unemployment away from Kenyans. He emphasized that unless the economy is sustainably expanding to accommodate the youths graduating every year, they are being robbed of their future.
The east African nation plans to amend its constitution to enable the country to end cycles of violence that have plagued general elections for decades.
The 2010 constitution was drafted in response to the disputed presidential 2007 vote that left more than 1,000 people dead and thousands injured. The constitution was meant to decentralize power, create accountable government and share resources more equitably.