Friday, June 4, 2010

Elections : Kenya releases Sh553m for voter education

The voter education on the referendum has received a shot in the arm after the government announced the release of Sh553 million to the Committee of Experts, ending weeks of bickering between the two parties.

The money is not in the budget, but has had to be reallocated from other ministries and will be regularised in next week's budget, which will cater for all constitution review needs.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga met Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo and Committee of Experts executive director Ekuru Aukot Thursday where a deal was struck to release the money.

"Given the significance of sticking to the timeline of this exercise and the significance attached to the review process the government has released Sh553 million to finance the activities of the Committee of Experts from now to the end of the review process," Mr Odinga said at his Treasury Building offices, Nairobi.

Bring parties together

He said, in the company of Mr Kenyatta, Mr Kilonzo and Mr Aukot, that the misunderstanding could have been because he was out of the country and that there was nobody to bring the parties together.

"This puts to an end the row over the money."

The PM said the government is fully committed to ensure civic education was done satisfactorily.

The civic education, he added, would enable Kenyans make an informed decision during the August 4 referendum.

Mr Odinga said although the money was not included in the current budget, the government had been relocating money from other ministries and departments to the review exercise.

He, however, said all the money for the constitution-making process will be included in the Budget to be read on June 10.

"All the review activities will be catered for," Mr Odinga said.

The PM said the CoE was satisfied with the Sh553 million allocation adding that the row over the money had caused unnecessary anxiety among Kenyans.

Internal matter

Asked about complaints by CoE over the Finance Ministry's move to pay the Government Printer to publish copies of the proposed constitution at more than Sh100 per copy yet the committee was doing it at Sh27 per copy elsewhere, Mr Odinga said "this is an internal matter".

He said there was no problem with his office giving Sh90 million for civic education and Ministry of Justice Sh10 million since "all the money comes from Treasury".

Questions had also been raised why Treasury was channelling the funds for printing copies of the constitution through the Internal Security Ministry and not that of Justice.

Mr Odinga said delays to release the funds for civic education could not affect the exercise as it has been going on smoothly and that Kenyans were also enlightened on the document having been involved since the Bomas National Constitutional Conference.

"Kenyans know a lot about the constitution. We are not starting from scratch. The Yash Pal Ghai team did a lot of civic education. The proposed constitution is not entirely different from Bomas draft. The current civic education is mainly focusing on a few new sections," the PM said.

He said the civic education could continue past the 30 days that had been allocated under the Constitution of Kenya Review Act. releases Sh553m for voter education/-/1148/931460/-/10r4oo4/-/index.html


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