Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kadhi ruling will not affect Kenya referendum vote-poll

Seventy eight percent of Kenyans, who intend to vote at the referendum, will not be affected by a court ruling that declared kadhi courts illegal.

An opinion poll, Kenyan Voters Perspective On The Proposed New Constitution Of Kenya, released Saturday by Infotrak Harris shows that only 10pc of respondents said the judgement will affect their vote on August 4.

A further 12pc said they were unsure which way to cast their ballot.

The poll, conducted between May 24-27 in all eight Kenyan provinces, showed that across all regions, majority of the
respondents reported not being affected by the ruling.

On the question whether they agree with the kadhi ruling, 49pc of Kenyans said they did not agree with the judges' decision while 37pc said they were in agreement. 14pc reported indecisiveness.

Highest incidences

North Eastern (92pc) and Coast (73pc) provinces recorded the highest incidences in their opposition to the court ruling.

Central (49pc) and Western (48pc) gave the most support for the controversial ruling.

On Monday, a three-judge bench, sitting as a Constitutional Court, declared the inclusion of the kadhi courts in the constitution illegal saying it favoured one religion over others.

However, the judges reserved their decision on whether the provision should be included in the proposed constitution, which will be subjected to a referendum on August 4.

In a 114-page landmark ruling, the judges held that the enactment and application of kadhi courts to areas beyond the 10-mile Coastal strip specified during their establishment in the colonial times is unconstitutional.

It further declared section 66 of the Constitution, which introduced the courts, as superfluous.

The section, the judges ruled, infringed on the constitutional rights of a group of 26 religious leaders who went to court in 2004 to challenge the kadhi courts.

Plead ignorance

On the question: Are you conversant with the contents of the proposed new constitution?, 66pc reported being generally aware of the contents in the proposed constitution, while 34pc pleaded ignorance.

The lowest incidences of awareness were recorded in Eastern (45pc) and Rift Valley (38pc) provinces, while residents of Nyanza (79pc) and North Eastern (77pc) provinces reported being conscious of the new law's content.

Kenyans said the media was their main source of information on the contents of the proposed constitution at 55pc followed by 39pc, who said they had read the document.

Some 14pc said they relied on politicians for information, while 13pc of Kenyans said they were informed by religious leaders.

The Committee of Experts (CoE), the body charged with carrying out voter education, performed dismally with only 5pc reporting it was their main source of information.

63pc of Kenyans, who intend to vote at the referendum, indicated that they will vote for the proposed law, while 21pc reported that they will oppose it. Sixteen per cent said they were undecided on whether to back the 'Yes' or 'No' camp.

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