April 20, 2010

Muslims in Kenya Back Kadhi Courts in New Draft Constitution

Nairobi — Muslim religious leaders on Friday said they were ready to dialogue with Christians on kadhi's courts.

The head of the National Muslim Leaders Forum Abdullahi Abdi, speaking at a press conference at Jamia Mosque in Nairobi, said they meet some of the Christians at the Inter-Religious Council, and would be willing to speak to them on the nature of the courts.

He said Kenyans, will live together after the referendum. "We are at the beginning of campaigns. The winner will take it," he said.

He declared their unanimous support for the draft constitution and launched campaigns to have more Kenyans register as voters."We believe (the draft constitution) has many virtues. We call upon Kenyans to vote 'Yes' in large numbers," the leaders said in a statement read by Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims chairman Prof Abdulghafur El-Busaidy.

At a separate press conference at Parliament Buildings, Dujis MP Aden Duale said Muslims are not backing the proposed constitution merely because it includes kadhi's courts.

Mr Duale said those supporting the proposed laws were especially pleased about the proposed devolution, the bill of rights, resource allocation and the pure presidential system.

The Dujis MP said the debate over the courts is not warranted given that they would be in Kenyan law whether or not the proposed laws are passed.

The constitution was passed by Parliament, but the Catholic Church and some evangelical groups have vowed to fight it because of its provisions on abortion and kadhi's courts.

Christian leaders are also opposed to the retention of kadhi's courts in the proposed constitution under Article 169 and 170, which limit their authority to disputes over personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance, where all the parties are Muslims and agree to take the case to a Kadhi.Federation of Kenya Employers chairman Patrick Obath also joined the Yes proponents and said at a press conference: "As concerned citizens, we think the constitution should be adopted."The African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption urged Kenyans to vote for the laws, saying that passing the draft would boost the fight against graft. They said the new laws would establish "strong, transparent, independent and accountable arms of government." They urged Kenyans to read the proposed draft before the referendum.


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