Raila says parliamentary system Kenya’s best bet

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 00:00 |
Opposition leader Raila Odinga with Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o during the book launch at the University of Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/Timothy Njenga

Opposition Chief Raila Odinga and the Young Turks of 1990s brigade have rooted for a parliamentary system of governance as Kenya’s best bet for political and economic transformation.

The former premier said the country goofed when it failed to adopt the Bomas Draft as the panacea for the challenges that have been bedevilling the country.

It is against this background, he said, that  the country has engaged in national conversation through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in a bid to redeem itself.

“Kenya must be prepared to bite the bullet. Kenya first voted for a president in 1992. In 1963 we voted for a prime minister. From 1969 to 1988, the president was unopposed. A parliamentary system is good for plural and diverse societies like Kenya,” said Raila.

He made the remarks yesterday during the launch of a book authored by Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o titled “Presidential or Parliamentary Democracy in Kenya? Choices To Be Made” at the University of Nairobi.

Re-engineer system

The Bomas Draft constitution divided Kenya into 14 regions, each made up of several districts with an intention to create units with sizes and population that made them economically viable.

In the draft, the district was the principle of devolution while the role of the regional governments was to coordinate the implementation, within the districts, of programmes and projects that cut across  more regions.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi said the current presidential system had failed to deliver economic and social dividends to Kenyans.

“A presidential system cannot provide a conducive environment for devolution to thrive. It sucks oxygen from the institutions of governance. There is very little Kenyans can do if a president chooses to ignore the Constitution,” he said.

“It is time to re-engineer our political system so that it doesn’t become a curse. When Chinese talk about communism, they talk about it with Chinese characteristics. Similarly, we need to think about democracy with Kenyan characteristics.”

Kiraitu said a law ought to be in place to make voting mandatory in Kenya.

In his book, Nyong’o likens the presidential system to an ugly beast that the country should get rid of. He makes an impassioned case for a parliamentary system as “the most practical solution to Kenya’s election anxiety”.

“The presidential system of government is bad. It is bad, period! When people like Christopher Msando, a former ICT Manager at the IEBC, can be “eliminated” so that a presidential election can be won, then this presidential system of government is not good for the nation,” he argues.

In most parliamentary systems, the leader of government, usually called the prime minister, is a member of parliament, and the person who has managed to get the support of the largest number of MPs (usually the leader of the largest party in parliament).

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