This was a historic day for Kenya

Parliament Tuesday passed two crucial Bills crafted after the power-sharing deal signed last month by President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill provides for the creation of the post of prime minister and two deputies, their functions and roles.

The other entrenches the National Reconciliation Accord which is aimed at ending the political stalemate that engulfed the country soon after the disputed December presidential elections.

The debate was emotive as it was historic. Members who spoke were unanimous that the spirit and the letter of the Bill and the next one to come were crucial to national healing, unity and development.

Historic it was since this was one of the rare moments when a sitting President participated in a debate in the House as an MP, and not a symbolic figure presiding over a State function.

Speakers were categorical that the two Bills were a precursor to a constitutional review which should provide an anchor for the creation of a new, modern, vibrant, prosperous and democratic state.

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga exhorted the MPs to pass the Bills which provided the framework for a new constitutional dispensation, social, economic and infrastructure reforms.

The most important lesson was the realisation that the problems afflicting this country require a constitutional solution, because the current governance, economic and social structures were untenable in a multi-ethnic and multi-party state.

For now, the challenge remains in first actualising the letter and spirit of the Bills and second, carrying through constitutional review within a year.

It is gratifying that both sides of the House underscored their commitment to a working coalition. We hope they will live true to that commitment and urge the Government to set in motion the reform agenda.

While acknowledging that the prevailing circumstances required the unanimity witnessed Tuesday, we must also take care that Parliament is not reduced into a mere voting machine.

In future, we would like to see an assertive Parliament debating Motions purely on their own strength. It is only in this way that we will nurture and protect the democratic ideals we badly crave.

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