Kenya referendum date set for Aug 4

May 14, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 – Kenyans will vote on the Proposed Constitution on August 4, the Interim Independent Electoral Commission has declared.

Chairman Issack Hassan announced on Friday that the referendum will be held at the expiry of the 90 days after the publication of the draft as provided by the Review Act. The draft was published last Thursday.

“This will also give us enough time to plan for the exercise. We will be able to employ staff, train them and procure all the necessary materials,” said Mr Hassan at a forum organised to discuss the media’s role in civic education prior to the plebiscite.

“Most of our polling stations are in education institutions that is why we want to conduct it (referendum) when schools have closed.”

The Commission last month advertised over 40,000 jobs for polling clerks for the referendum.

The Commission is set to announce the referendum symbols next week. On Tuesday, IIEC asked the public to suggest the symbols to be used after ruling out the use of Oranges or Bananas that were used in the 2005 referendum and any of the signs or colours used by the 47 registered political parties.

On Wednesday the IIEC gazetted the referendum question in readiness for the August poll. The question reads: "Do you approve the Proposed new Constitution?"  Or in Kiswahili: "Je, unaikubali katiba mpya inayopendekezwa?"

Voters will then be required to either tick Yes or No during the August referendum.

The question rules out the possibility of a multi choice referendum that had been advanced by church leaders and politicians in the No camp, who had wanted Kenyans to be given an opportunity to vote separately on the contentious issues.
Elsewhere, Church leaders who are opposed to the envisaged law have welcomed the referendum date.

"This is good news and we are ready to up our campaigns. Let\’s go for it," said Bishop Joseph Methu who chairs the committee organising No rallies.

The No camp has objected to provisions on land, abortion and the inclusion of Kadhis courts.

Two people have in the meantime moved to court to challenge the released referendum question, claiming that it limits their freedom of expression.

In the latest setback to hit the constitution review process, Kamau Daniel Chege and Cosmas Kipkemoi Ng\’eno termed the question as undemocratic claiming that the Constitution Review Act infringes on section 79 of the current Constitution in that it limits their freedom of expression.

They say the provision for YES and NO answers is undemocratic and they want the court to declare it as such.

The Committee of Experts on the Constitution Review is currently conducting a month long civic education scheduled to end in three weeks.

These latest developments come in the midst of a controversy surrounding the review process after the discovery that the government printer had produced a fake draft concurrently with the authentic one.

Although the Attorney General has assured printing of the fake document was stopped and police called in to investigate, politicians in the NO camp had called for the suspension of the referendum until after the probe.


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