Kibaki to sign new laws amid pomp and fanfare

Friday August 06 2010

President Mwai KIbaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga acknowledge the passing of Kenya's new Constitution. PHOTO/ William Oeri

President Kibaki will sign the new Constitution into law during a ceremony that will be attended by foreign leaders, it has emerged.

The revelation came as US President Barack Obama and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan saluted the government and voters for adopting the new Constitution, which they said will place the country firmly on the path to stability.

Congratulatory messages to the government and the public flowed in as leaders in the two camps were taking stock of the turn of events after the final results were announced by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC).

The ‘Yes’ team won with 5,954,767 votes while the ‘No’ side scored 2,687,193.

Government sources said President Kibaki will not rush to promulgate the new laws to pave way for an elaborate ceremony to mark the historic event of adopting a new constitution after Kenyans voted for it on Wednesday.

Under the roadmap guiding constitution making, the President is required to sign into law the new Constitution within 14 days after the IIEC announces the ratification by Kenyans.


This means that the President could as well promulgate it next week but quick consultations within government after the victory on Thursday were in agreement that the new constitutional dispensation must be ushered in with pomp and fanfare.

It is on the basis of this government decision that next week the President will send invitations to presidents of African countries and members of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities chaired by Mr Annan.

It was also understood that the international community, which was supportive of the new Constitution, will also send high profile representatives to witness the rebirth of the Kenyan nation.

On Thursday, President Obama said the resounding victory by the ‘Yes’ side reflected the resolve by Kenyans to put in place a new constitution that will embrace democracy and firmly place the country on the path to stability.

The referendum, he said, was a test to Kenyans who emerged from election violence at the end of December 2007 and in early 2008.

“The overwhelming approval of the proposed new constitution reflects the desire of the Kenyan people to put their country on a path toward improved governance, greater stability and increased prosperity.

“The peaceful nature of the election was a testament to the character of the Kenyan people,” he said in a statement released by the US embassy in Nairobi.

Support implementation

The US president said Kenyans will benefit from provisions in the constitution and pledged to support the implementation process, which, among other steps, will require the enactment of 49 Bills by Parliament.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her message, praised the big margin of victory, describing it as the desire of the Kenyans.

“This is an indication that a very strong majority of Kenyans have voted for fundamental change,” she said.

Mr Annan, in his statement, expressed delight at the ratification of the new Constitution and said it had brought to an end the long search for a new set of laws.

Speaking on behalf of members of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, former president of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa and former South African First Lady Graca Machel, the chief mediator declared the win a Kenyan victory and called for reconciliation.

“The result of the referendum suggests that Kenyans have voiced their overwhelming support for a new constitution and the opportunity it provides to end the country’s decades-long quest for a better governance architecture,” he said.

“There are no winners or losers in this referendum. It is Kenya itself that has triumphed! The panel calls on all Kenyans to respect the will of the people, reconcile their differences and join together to implement the new constitution and inject new energy into reform efforts,” he added.

Mr Annan urged President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to ensure that other items on the reform agenda as stipulated in the National Accord are implemented.

“The government will need the support of political, civic, religious and business leaders as well as that of Kenya’s friends around the world to realise the promises this new constitution contains,” he said.

The United Kingdom, through Foreign Secretary William Hague, described the adoption of the new Constitution as a landmark decision and urged the government to implement all reforms that were detailed in the National Accord.

The UK, he said, will support the government in its bid to implement reforms.

“I congratulate the people of Kenya on their historic referendum which has approved a new constitution. This is a landmark decision that raises hopes for a new era of stability, accountability and prosperity in Kenya,” he said.