Kenya faces tough road after new law approval

August 6, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Aug – Kenya\’s leading dailies cautioned Friday that despite the resounding endorsement of a new constitution, the country faced a difficult task implementing the charter.

More than two-thirds of voters backed the new law calling for far-reaching governance and basic rights reforms in a referendum Wednesday to replace the country\’s 1963 independence constitution.

The top-selling Daily Nation said: "It is time to appreciate that though Kenyans have spoken, the hard work lies ahead towards actual realisation of a new constitution and a renewed process of national healing and reconciliation."

"The easy part of this onerous national duty of lobbying, talking, campaigning and voting is over..," said the Standard newspaper in an editorial.

"The hard part which requires nationalistic, conciliatory leadership will be the greatest test for the new constitutional dispensation.

"The next step will even be harder, especially reconciling the expectations of the majority and and the fears of the minority…."

Writing a new constitution was part of reforms agreed on in a 2008 deal that ended Kenya\’s worst post-independence violence, sparked by an election dispute between President Mwai Kibaki and then opposition chief Raila Odinga.

The new charter places curbs on presidential powers, introduces a devolved system of government and proposes wide-ranging rights reforms.

Opponents had argued that it threatened to spark unrest through a proposed national land panel to regulate use and titling, favouring Muslims and legalising abortion.

However, Higher Education Minister William Ruto, who had campaigned hard for its rejection, admitted defeat while calling for consultation with the "yes" camp to iron out their differences.

Wednesday\’s voting, which passed off peacefully, was the first national poll since violence tore the country two and a half years ago, leaving some 1,500 people dead.


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