22 April 2003

Kenya: Children Cry Foul Over Review

Nairobi — Children are demanding full representation at the National Constitutional Conference.

The Children's Cabinet said yesterday that the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission had left children out of the list of delegates despite being directed by Parliament to ensure the full participation of all groups.

Quoting the Constitution, the children said all Kenyans, irrespective of age, sex, custom or other status, were entitled to full representation at the talks. "CKRC gazetted the list of delegates last week and no child was considered, which is unfair," junior president Moses Mwangi said in a statement.

"A study shows that there are 18 million children out of 30 million Kenyans. And being the majority, there's need for children to be allowed to participate," said Master Mwangi.

The junior president said his cabinet was not pleased with the appointment of two children's representatives as observers.

He regretted that the CKRC had not given the two observers even the rules and regulations, so they did not know how to go about their duties. He said they lacked guidance.

"They (observers) will be just physically present, not aware of what is taking place. We don't want to be represented by proxy," he said.

Also present during the conference were junior Attorney-General Ken Karanja, Education minister Sarah Wanjohi and Cabinet convener Tim Gitau.

Meanwhile, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday said MPs and political parties had been favoured in the allocation of slots at the conference.

In a statement, Nakuru chamber branch spokesman Edward Maina called on the Parliamentary Select Committee to push for an amendment so that civic leaders could to pick an equal number of representatives.

Mr Maina said only the Nairobi City and county councils were allowed to elect delegates, while civic leaders from the municipal, town and urban councils had been excluded.

And church leaders in the town said the review required adequate time to enable all Kenyans to give their views.

The Kenya Church Nakuru chapter accused the government of hurrying up the review in total disregard of the wishes of most Kenyans. They said many Kenyans were ignorant of what was contained in the draft constitution.

The more than 100 clergymen were meeting with the local MPs to tackle issues the church wanted addressed at the conference, which begins on April 28.

Additional reporting by Simon Siele, Sam Kiplagat and Francis Mureithi Comments\Views about this article

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