26 February 2004

Kenya: No Kadhis' Courts, Say Delegates

Nairobi — Christian delegates yesterday revived the controversial issue of Kadhis' courts in the new constitution and accused the consensus building committee of failing them.

The delegates, led by Rev David Oginde of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, expressed fear that there was "a deliberate and well co-ordinated agenda" behind moves to entrench the courts in the new constitution.

The Rev Oginde expressed "shock" that the 47-member consensus team, chaired by Bishop Philip Sulumeti of the Kakamega Catholic diocese, did not list the Kadhis' courts among the contentious issues to be negotiated with other interested parties.

The bone of contention is Muslims' demand that the courts, which deal with personal, marriage, property and inheritance law, be entrenched in the new constitution, a position vehemently opposed especially by the evangelical churches.

The Sulumeti team concluded its work on Tuesday after closed-door meetings for the past fortnight at the Kenya Commercial Bank Management Training Centre at Karen, Nairobi.

Yesterday, the Rev Oginde, who was flanked by Environment assistant minister Wangari Maathai, Kigumo MP Kihara Mwangi and others, said: "We believe there is a deliberate move to entrench the Kadhis' courts in the constitution."

The delegates demanded that the mention of specific religions must be left out of the new constitution.

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