Praise still pouring in for Kenya referendum

Monday August 9 2010

By KEVIN J KELLEY in New York

Two influential newspapers — one in London, the other in Washington — have hailed Kenya's referendum as a cause for celebration.
“Kenya’s new constitution offers the country a chance of unity. But better still, it deals with some of the country’s persistent problems,” the Financial Times wrote in an editorial on Monday.
“In a region of troubled states wracked by instability and extremism, Kenya has immense significance as a broadly pro-western democracy, fragile as it is,” the London-based FT added.
Kenya's regional role was also cited by The Washington Post as having been enhanced by the conduct and outcome of the referendum.
In an editorial on Monday entitled “Free and Fair,” the Post noted, “The constitution will take five years to implement in full, but it raises the chances that Kenya can overcome its historical shortcomings and emerge as a leader in a region, East Africa, that badly needs some stability.”
“With 40 million people and abundant natural resources, Kenya has tremendous potential for economic growth,” added the US capital city's leading daily.
The positive assessment was tempered by notes of caution, however.
“Kenya’s constitution must still be ratified – clause by clause – by its parliament,” the Financial Times pointed out. “This will offer ample scope for troublemaking. There are also limits to what constitutions can achieve. Kenya’s latest offering will not in itself change the climate of corruption and impunity that hangs over political circles.”
But the FT concluded its editorial in upbeat fashion.
“Although previous bouts of optimism have been undermined by events, the country’s sense of rebirth should be encouraged,” the paper said. “The latest wind of change to sweep through the country could just bring lasting good.”