, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 23 – European Union diplomatic missions in Nairobi have pledged to support civic education on voter registration and the expected referendum in support for the proposed Constitution.
Addressing a media conference on Friday, the diplomats expressed concerns over misinformation especially on the proposed draft.
“What appears equally critical at this stage is to increase efforts to ensure that Kenyans make informed decisions in the referendum, civic education must have the widest possible outreach,” said US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger.
British High Commissioner Rob Macaire noted that there were increased intentions to misinform the public on many issues in the proposed draft as he emphasised the importance of civic education to empower all Kenyans with knowledge.
He acknowledged that if people understand what is in the draft, then they will not easily become prey of propaganda and distortion.
Although the diplomats promised to throw in their support, they urged the government to provide adequate funding to ensure civic educates spreads across the country. “Government will need to provide adequate funding for the registration of voters as well as for civic education campaigns. Many of us as donors will continue to provide support to civic education.”
They also urged groups, individuals and organisations to redouble their efforts to empower Kenyans to make informed choices.
They especially called on young people to read the draft and interpreter it to older people in the society to help them understand what the new law is all about.
The diplomats further urged Kenyans to support the proposed Constitution saying Kenya had the perfect and closest moment to finally get a new set of supreme laws after many years of struggle.
The international community also cautioned any individuals or groups from causing violence or inciting Kenyans whether they were for or against the constitution.
They said it was within everyone’s democratic rights to voice their view but in peace and respect.
“A new Constitution is now within reach. Passions may run high in the lead up to the referendum, but no person or group should be tarnished for expressing their views. As both Mr Kibaki and Mr Raila have underlined the debate should be respectful and avoid incitement,” they said.
They said no constitutions are perfect but acknowledged that most of the proposed laws in the draft are good for Kenyans.
“It would be a key element in Kenya’s peaceful democratic development, prosperity and security. It can help reduce the winner takes all mentality and unlock further necessary reform such as police, the judiciary and the allocation of resources,” asserted EU Head of Delegation Eric van der Linden.
They also urged people to acquire new voters’ cards and ensure they participate in the referendum as well as in future elections.