Muslim And Christian Leaders Against Religious Clause

Nairobi, Kenya - Muslim leaders have expressed discontent with the Attorney-General's Draft Bill.

They say most of the Bill introduces what was never discussed, and excludes Bomas proposals.

Chief Kadhi Sheikh Hammad Kassim said the Bill consists of cosmetic changes. "Most of the issues in the Bill are not realistic and were never discussed by anyone except those who prepared the Bill," he said.

And Sheikh Muhammad Dormuhammad, the secretary-general of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya said: "We have to consult before we come up with a unanimous decision."

His chairman, Sheikh Mohammed Idriss, said Christians and Hindus had not called for religious courts, then posed: Why give out what was never asked?

Nothing new

Sheikh Hassan Omar, the treasurer, said the Bill offered nothing new.

Meanwhile, two Catholic archbishops yesterday spoke against the provision for Christian courts, but said their comprehensive comments will be made known on Tuesday next week when all Catholic bishops will meet.

Archbishops Zacheus Okoth of Kisumu and John Njue of Nyeri and the Vicariate of Isiolo said Kenya, being a secular State, should not entrench any religious courts in the Constitution.

"I was a Bomas delegate and a member of the Judiciary sub-Committee. (Religious courts) were rejected. How it is featuring now, is what I don't understand," said Archbishop Okoth.

Archbishop Njue could neither deny nor confirm a scheduled meeting with the Head of State.

The moderator of St Andrew's Church, the Rev Patrick Mungiriria, said they had not made any proposal to include Christian courts: "This inclusion has come to us as a surprise."

The Government yesterday said the religious courts were a compromise.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Kiraitu Murungi said after extensive consultations the Government decided to treat all religions equally because of threats of a No vote.

Word 'Kadhi'

Mr Murungi, who spoke in his office, said: "Christians said if they saw the word 'Kadhi', they would mobilise supporters to vote No in the referendum... Muslims, too, said if the courts were removed, they would vote (No)."

But Kanu chief whip Justin Muturi described the Draft Constitution as a "campaign manifesto" for the Narc Government.

He added that Parliament was unlikely to enact a law to reserve constituency seats for women.