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Kenya parliament approves constitution draft

[JURIST] The Kenyan Parliament [official website] on Thursday unanimously approved [press release] a draft constitution [text, PDF]. The vote follows two days of contentious debate [AP report], though none of the many proposals for amendment passed, and the draft remained as introduced by the Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review [official website]. The draft includes several significant checks on presidential authority, including a requirement that presidential appointees face parliamentary confirmation and the removal of presidential appointment of judges. Members of Parliament receiving Cabinet positions will also have to relinquish their legislative seats. Final approval of the constitution will be determined via public referendum, to be held within 90 days.

The first draft of the constitution was unveiled [JURIST report] in November. The changes are intended to reduce the widespread injustice throughout the country, and specifically address issues that led to violence following the 2007 presidential elections [JURIST news archive]. In October, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan [official profile; JURIST news archive] called for constitutional reform in Kenya before the next electoral cycle begins in 15 months. In 2007, tens of thousands of protesters took to Kenya's streets accusing President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] of election fraud after early opinion polls suggested rival Raila Odinga [official website] was in the lead.

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