Muslim leaders split over BBI, spell demands

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020 00:00 |
Kenya Muslims National Advisory Council chaiman Sheik Juma Ngao during a media briefing yesterday. Photo/PD/BONFACE MSANGI

Divisions have rocked the Muslim community after a section of faithful rejected the position taken by the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) and instead threw their weight behind the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report. 

At a press conference in Mombasa town yesterday, Kenya Muslim National Advisory Council (Kemnac) vowed to rally Muslims behind the report, albeit, with several new demands they want addressed by the government.

Chairman Sheikh Juma Ngao reiterated that the lobby fully supports all constitutional changes.

Kemnac’s stand comes only a day after Supkem warned that Muslims would reject the document during the proposed referendum, because it does not address their concerns.

Instead, the Muslim leaders called for a more inclusive process to amend the Constitution.

They said although the report constitutes proposals that are of a constitutional, policy, legislative and administrative nature, President Uhuru Kenyatta should ensure there is full participation of all people in the process.

“The instructions to mobilise support for the document and sanction those against it, will create an atmosphere of fear, which is not conducive for a constitutional moment,” Supkem acting chairperson Hassan ole Naado said.

He added: “BBI architects failed to design a process that is inclusive, transparent and accountable.”

Naado said the process must not be engineered by a partisan side.

“We have seen selective delegations being lobbied to support these proposals. We are seeing a section calling for amendments with the other declaring that the doors for any amendments are shut,” he said.

The National Muslim Leaders Forum chair Abdullahi Abdi on his part, said there was no need to rush the amendments as the country was facing a more serious issue at the moment-the Covid-19 pandemic.

Abdi said it was time to reconsider the priorities of the country and stay focused.

Historical injustices

“We are neither in the mental nor the financial state to amend the Constitution. Please postpone the process; let us address the Covid-19 issue first,” he said.

Sheikh Ngao maintained that the position adopted by Supkem did not represent the views of all Muslims.

“Those are not opinions of all Muslims in Kenya, our position is that we support BBI,” he said.

The official made the remarks during a Muslim religious leaders meeting at a Mombasa hotel yesterday.

“We have thoroughly read and understood the report, through  consultation of our legal experts, we have decided to back it because we are satisfied,” he added.

Ngao however demanded that the final report addresses historical injustices as captured in the Ndung’u Land Report and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Committee report.

 They also called for a lasting solution to historical land injustices at the Coast especially the question of absentee landlords.

They further demanded that a proposal be included in the report to ensure that counties get a share of revenue derived from national parks and reserves in their regions.

They are pushing for the Chief Kadhi to enjoy the same status of the Chief justice.

“We want the Kadhi given the same status as the Chief justice,” said Zubeir Noor, a council member.

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