US envoy urges Kenyans to support new law

April 7, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger is calling on leaders to rally massive support from Kenyans to pass the proposed Constitution ahead of the national referendum.

Mr Ranneberger said the US government was pleased by the overwhelming support the document received from Members of Parliament who passed it last Thursday after heated debate in the House.

In a statement, the envoy said the US government was particularly pleased by statements made by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga when they went to rally support from legislators in Parliament.

“The leaders of the coalition government have sent a clear and positive message to the Kenyan people that the implementation of a new Constitution is critical to achieving political reform,” the ambassador said.

“We urge the leaders of the coalition government, civil society, and religious leaders to maintain positive momentum as Kenya moves towards a national referendum on the draft Constitution,” he said in a statement and added that: “Unity in support of the draft will bring the Kenyan people together and establish a framework which will greatly improve prospects for democratic stability and shared prosperity for all Kenyans.”

The draft Constitution was handed over to the Attorney General Amos Wako on Wednesday and is now expected to be published in a month’s time to enable Kenyans read and understand it before it goes for a national referendum.

Some leaders and a section of church leaders and civil society organisations have voiced concerns over contentious sections and called on Kenyans to reject it as a whole.

Key among the contentious issues includes abortion, the right to life, Kadhis Courts and devolution.

Some leaders have suggested the amendment of the review law to pave the way for renegotiation of the contentious issues.

In his statement, the US Ambassador sought to assure Kenyans and the leaders opposed to the proposed draft to accept it the way it is because: “No political process and no constitution is perfect – including those of the United States – but the proposed Constitution contains checks and balances which will ensure greater accountability and adherence to the rule of law.”

“The new Constitution will, therefore, secure and protect the interests of all communities and regions of the country,” Mr Ranneberger said.

Kenyan leaders have received accolades from the international community including from the US President Barack Obama who termed it a new chapter in the Kenyan history.

Ambassador Ranneberger said the US government is willing to “support a vigorous process of civic education to help ensure that the Kenyan people can make well-informed decisions.”

“We will continue to support preparations for a credible and transparent referendum, and the implementation of the reform agenda,” he said.


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