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Kenya’s referendum: Efforts to sustain peace
August 4, 2010

Synod for Africa Proposition 24: Good governance

The common good should find legal expression in the Constitution and requires the exercise of good governance. Its practice also needs to respect the principles of democracy: equality among persons, the sovereignty of peoples and respect for the rule of law. Otherwise, democracy loses its vitality and dies.

The Synod Fathers therefore call on leaders conscientiously to exercise stewardship and to uphold the common good over the interests of family, clan, ethnic group or political party and to protect and promote the social, economic, political and religious rights of every citizen, as enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights.

Kenya’s constitutional referendum

On Wednesday, August 4, Kenyans took part in a ballot on a proposed new constitution. In response to concerns about possible violence around this vote, many efforts were made to ensure that the atmosphere remained calm and peaceful, no matter the outcome.

The Uwiano Platform for Peace, for example, a joint initiative of the government and civil society, supported the establishment of peace committees in districts identified as potential hot spots. “Peace brigades” were deployed to monitor and share information as the situation on the ground unfolded. To enable as many Kenyans as possible to report incidents of violence or the build-up of tension, a print and electronic media campaign with messages on national cohesion and with information on how to report incidents was launched. A toll-free number and email address were disseminated. Weekly meetings and media briefings were shared information with the public.

According to Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), in the past month the Waso Peace Caravan campaign, spearheaded by professional, local and civil society leaders, also conducted peace rallies in trading centers, fields, livestock markets and watering points in Isiolo, Samburu, Marsabit and Meru East districts.

Key issues in the proposed constitution, some of them contentious, include an expanded bill of rights; land reform; judicial reform; a reduction in the number of Cabinet members; a requirement that one-third of all elective bodies, including parliament, be reserved for women; a loophole that could potentially allow abortion; recognition of Kadhi (Muslim) courts; devolution of political power to county governments; the recall of “non-performing” members of Parliament; and the possible impeachment of the president.

Results of the referendum are expected by Friday, August 6.

For more information see the IRIN article.


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