Kenyans vote in constitutional referendum

[JURIST] Kenyans voted Monday in a referendum [Reuters backgrounder] on a new constitution [PDF text]. Voters came out amid fears that violence [JURIST report] might overshadow the voting process, viewed as a dress rehearsal for the 2007 election. The vote is supported by President Mwai Kibaki [official profile], but criticized by others such as 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, [BBC profile, Nobel Prize profile], who has dismissed the vote as a "betrayal to the wishes of the people of Kenya" as it centers on presidential powers. If the referendum is passed, it will mark the first major change to the Kenyan charter since the country became independent from Britain in 1963. Earlier this year, riots broke out [JURIST report] in Nairobi when the proposed constitution was first published as protesters demanded that the proposed presidential powers be limited [JURIST report]. Elections polls close at 5:00 PM local time (14:00 GMT) and the results are expected overnight. Reuters has more. From Nairobi, the Standard has local coverage.

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