Kenya re­born as new con­sti­tu­tion is signed

The Scotsman - - International - Wangui Kanina

Cheered by hun­dreds of thou­sands of ju­bi­lant Kenyans wav­ing na­tional flags, Pres­i­dent Mwai Kibaki yes­ter­day signed a new con­sti­tu­tion that curbs his sweep­ing pow­ers and strength­ens civic rights.

In a cer­e­mony full of mil­i­tary pomp and tra­di­tional dance, Kenyans packed Nairobi’s Uhuru Park – or Free­dom Park – to see their lead­ers take fresh oaths un­der the first over­haul of the char­ter since 1963.

“I am here to wit­ness the re­birth of our nation. It has been 40 years since our first con­sti­tu­tion was made. This is a new dawn be­cause we will re­alise devel­op­ment and the rights of Kenyans will be re­spected. It’s a happy day for Kenyans,” said spec­ta­tor Charles Oduor in the heav­ing crowd.

east Africa’s largest econ­omy en­dorsed the doc­u­ment in a peace­ful ref­er­en­dum this month, as one of the re­forms agreed upon to end months of mur­der­ous vi­o­lence that erupted fol­low­ing a dis­puted pres­i­den­tial elec­tion at the end of 2007.

“No-one could have thought that out of the bit­ter har­vest of the dis­puted elec­tion and the vi­o­lence that pit­ted our peo­ple against each other just two years ago, we would be wit­ness­ing to­day the birth of a na­tional unity that has eluded us for more than 40 years,” Prime Min­is­ter raila Odinga said to con­stant cheer­ing.

Some 1,300 Kenyans were killed in that vi­o­lence and more than 300,000 oth­ers fled their homes, fear­ing for their lives.

The In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) is due to is­sue ar­rest war­rants for the Kenyan lead­ers re­spon­si­ble. Su­dan’s Pres­i­dent, Omar has­san al Bashir, de­fied his own ICC ar­rest war­rant for charges of geno­cide in dar­fur to at­tend the Kenyan fes­tiv­i­ties, an­ger­ing hu­man rights groups who de­mand his ar­rest. Bashir de­nies the charges.

Be­fore putting his sig­na­ture to the new con­sti­tu­tion, Kibaki greeted Bashir and other re­gional heads of state who later all re­leased white doves. Nearly 70 per cent of Kenyans that voted in the 4 Au­gust ref­er­en­dum en­dorsed

Charles Oduor

“The rights of Kenyans will be re­spected”

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