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Former President Mwai Kibaki during the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution

Katiba at 10: Kenya marks 10 years of new constitution amid clamor for change

In 2010, a new Constitution was promulgated, and a new nation was birthed. The new Constitution was the culmination of a clamor for reforms and followed a national crisis – the 2007/08 post election violence. On Thursday, as Kenya marks the 10th anniversary of the 2010 Constitution, critical questions still linger – has the Constitution been implemented in full? Has it cured the ills diagnosed by those clamoring for change? Are we more united than we were?

Arms of government, professional bodies, the civil society and other non-state actors set out a series of activities to mark this important day, amid reflections on the successes and failures experienced by each during the ten years of change. According to LSK Chair Nelson Havi, the Constitution is ‘a great inconvenience to the political class’. He implied that the calls for constitutional change were insincere, saying that Kenyans should strive to implement the current Constitution, ”We cannot trust the current political class with amendment of the Constitution two years to a general election. Implement the Constitution (first).”

ANC Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi echoed Havi’s sentiments, lamenting that the calls for a referendum were obscurring real issues that Kenyans were facing, ”Let us not blame the document, it is the implementors who are to blame,” said the former presidential hopeful.

Speaking on the eve of the 10th anniversary however, President Uhuru Kenyatta intimated that it was time to change the Constitution in order to adjust to ’emerging realities.’ He termed the Constitution a living document, and cautioned against succumbing to the paralysis of ‘constitutional rigidity.’

”The constitution was a work in progress, and as such, we were made to adopt it with a promise in future, that we will make it better. 10 years later, the moment to improve on it, is now,” said the Head of State. He┬árevealed that the 2010 Constitution was more of a ceasefire document that arose following a tense period in the country, ”instead of a ceasefire document that enforces a zero sum game in which winner takes all and loser is expected to accept…”

ODM Leader Raila Odinga has also on numerous occasions expressed his wish to amend the Constitution before the 2022 elections. On Tuesday, Raila rubbished claims that it was logistically and financially impossible to hold a referendum before 2022, ”if you look at what they do in Europe, they can do even two elections in one year. The notion that there is no time is therefore making us miss the point,” he explained. The former PM has also denied that the clamor for a referendum is meant to solidify 2022 political ambitions, ”I cannot muzzle people who want to speak about 2022 but I will not speak about it…After the BBI, then we shall speak about 2022.”