Friday, September 24, 2010

Githongo throws his weight behind new law

By PAUL REDFERN in London

The new Constitution is Kenya’s “moment of hope”, anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo has said.

Mr Githongo praised the large number of Kenyans who voted in the referendum for the new set of laws and their determination to see it succeed.

“Kenya’s primary asset is its people,” he told a packed audience of the Royal Africa Society on Thursday night which included diplomats, aid officials, business leaders and journalists.

He said the people, civil organisations and the media were determined to hold Kenya’s political leadership to account.

It was important to not only ensure the letter but also the spirit of the law reflected the new Kenya, according to the former Ethics permanent secretary.

This was not a Kenya of the land — where for generations leaders had said the future was — but of the rapidly growing cosmopolitan cities where different ethnic groups lived and worked side by side.

“It is in the most cosmopolitan rural and urban areas where the new Kenya will be forged,” he said.

Author Michela Wrong, a panellist at the event who has written a best seller - It’s our turn to eat - however was cynical that Kenyan politicians would allow real change.

“A piece of paper can’t transform society,” she said. “You need to transform society first and then enshrine it in a piece of paper.”

But Mr Githongo said the new Constitution would result in a “detribalisation of politics” particularly in the presidency where candidates would be forced to broaden their appeals to include all Kenyans.

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