Opponents of Kenya constitution concede in referendum

Opponents of Kenya constitution concede in referendum

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[JURIST] Opponents of a new Kenya constitution [text, PDF] on Thursday peacefully conceded to those in favor of the change, after early results from a national referendum strongly favored [IIEC release] the constitution. Voting on the constitution took place Wednesday amid concerns [Standard op-ed] that high turnout and heated debate over the referendum could cause a repeat of the violence seen during the country’s presidential election [JURIST report] in 2007. Kenya’s new constitution includes several significant checks on presidential authority, including a requirement that presidential appointees face parliamentary confirmation and an end to the presidential appointment of judges. Additionally, members of parliament receiving cabinet positions will be required to relinquish their legislative seats. Full results for the election are expected [Standard report] to be published by the end of the week.

The creation of a new constitution was part of a power-sharing agreement [JURIST report] agreed to in 2009 between President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] and opposition leader Prime Minister Raila Odinga [official website] that brought to an end the civil unrest that followed the contested election. Election officials have sought to make the referendum as inclusive and peaceful as possible by allowing prisoners to vote and prosecuting those who suggested violence in reaction to the changes [JURIST reports] under hate speech laws.