Church Split over No vote in new law.
Christian religious leaders on Monday insisted that they would oppose the draft constitution because of clauses on the kadhis’ courts and abortion.
The Church and Muslims object to Article 26 which permits abortion. Nevertheless the Muslims have expressed support for the draft since it provides for Kadhis’ courts and is far better than the current constitution.
Christian leaders are also opposed to the retention of kadhis’ courts in the proposed constitution under Article 169 and 170. They claim that the draft gives undue recognition to one religious group in a state that is secular
Speaking only a day after President Kibaki had beseeched them to back the draft, which was passed by Parliament and now awaits the referendum, the leaders vowed to campaign against the document.
Former President Daniel Moi, who is closely associated with the African Inland Church, has come out to express his opposition to the draft as being “academic and foreign.”
The authority of the Kadhi’s court is limited to disputes over personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance, where all the parties are Muslims and agree to take the case to a kadhi. These courts are not new phenomena in Kenya as they have existed in the constitution since colonial days.
Reaction from some Anglican leaders suggested splits as junior clergy differed with their superiors. ACK bishop Thomas Kogo of Eldoret differed with Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, saying the draft went against the wishes of Kenyans.
The archbishop has reportedly asked Kenyans to support the draft as the document is better than the current one. Archbishop Wabukala suggested that contentious clauses could be amended later. He said the kadhis’ courts should not make Christians vote against the draft because the courts were in the current Constitution
But Bishop Kogo said: “He gave his personal opinion about the draft, which should not be interpreted as the stand of the church.” Speaking on Sunday at St Mathews’ ACK, Bishop Kogo, who was accompanied by Provost John Rotich and the Rev Evelyn Jerotich, said the House of Bishops was yet to meet and agree on a common position.
He supported John Cardinal Njue’s view that all religions were equal and none should be given preferential treatment in the Constitution.
The Catholic Church one of the mainstream Christian faith has summarily dismissed the draft as flawed. In reference to President Kibaki’s call to Christians to support the draft since other contentious issues will be amended in parliament, the Cardinal argued that Parliament failed to amend and cannot be trusted to do so in future. President Kibaki is a Catholic faithful.
NCCK Busia branch chairman Isaiah Obuya said: “If Busia MPs failed to remove the clause last week, what guarantee do we have that they will amend it in future?”
MPs and religious groups were asked to sign an MoU committing themselves to amend contentious clauses after the referendum.
Speaking during an Easter service in Kakamega, Bishop Titus Khamala of Cornerstone Ministries in Kenya praised Parliament for passing the draft constitution and urged other Christian religious leaders and the public to vote for the draft at the referendum.
Activist Okiya Omtatah also defended the position taken by the churches but said they should “not destroy the righteous along with the wicked” by rejecting the draft.