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» 02.03.2011 - "Kenya, Niger, Mali troops support Ghaddafi"
» 19.04.2010 - Kenyan leader speaks out on constitution affair
» 08.04.2010 - Church leaders find role in Kenya’s reform agenda
» 31.03.2010 - Court bombshell hangs over Kenya
» 11.03.2010 - New Kenyan constitution nearing majority
» 04.03.2010 - ICC prosecutor submits 20 names
» 25.02.2010 - Truth commission chair told to resign
» 18.02.2010 - Resolve differences - Annan tells Kenyan leaders

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Kibaki defeated in Kenya referendum

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, addressing the nation today.

© afrol News / State House, Kenya
afrol News, 22 November
- Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki today admitted his defeat in a national referendum to change the constitution. "The people have made a choice and as I have always said, my government would respect the choice of the people," the Kenyan President said in a televised speech today as partial results were known.

The Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) since last night has presented partial results from yesterday's referendum on a new Kenyan constitution. For the "yes" camp, led by President Kibaki, this afternoon it was impossible not to face defeat. With less than ten percent of the votes yet to be counted, victory was out of the question.

According to the ECK's partial results, 58 percent of Kenyans so far had voted "no" while 42 percent had voted "yes". Less than 500,000 votes remain uncounted, but the lead of the "no" block was already at one million votes. Since that, the "no" camp has dropped to 57 percent, which seems to be the final result.

President Kibaki thus had to admit he had faced his most bitter defeat since he was elected in a landslide victory three years ago. It was a disappointed and tired man addressing the nation on state television and radio today, saying he "would respect the choice of the people."

Contrary to the claims by his opponents - who claimed Mr Kibaki was gripping for dictatorial powers and was trying to manipulate the referendum - the Kenyan statesman demonstrated respect for democratic structures. There were "no winners or losers in the referendum," he said, as the objective of the important process "was to determine the people's choice and that choice has been made."

While President Kibaki was disappointed by the results, a majority of Kenyans found the outcome hilarious. Hundreds took to the streets of Nairobi and other cities to celebrate immediately after the ECK had announced the results. The peaceful and joyful party was dominated by the colour orange and oranges - which were the symbol of the "no" camp. The ECK had appointed the banana to symbolise the "yes" camp, in a move to aid illiterate voters.

President Kibaki and representatives of the "no" Orange campaign today said they were grateful that there had been very few incidents during voting yesterday. The campaign, which polarised Kenyans, had cost nine lives and seen many violent confrontations between banana and the orange activists.

Politically, the "no" victory means that Kenya for now stays with its 1963 constitution. President Kibaki today did not want to signal renewed works on drafting a constitution that could secure a popular majority. "Any future initiatives in this regard will have to be in accordance with the constitution and the law," the Head of State said.

The referendum had produced a split in most parts of society, even in President Kibaki's ruling Rainbow Coalition (NARC). Many of the most profiled Orange leaders belong to President Kibaki's cabinet, and he had been expected to sack them in case of a "yes" victory.

A reshuffling of cabinet now seems out of the question and President Kibaki may even have lost much authority by today's defeat. In the constituency of Environment Minister Kalonzo Musyoka - a leading "no" activist - there were counted 90 percent "no" votes and people were chanting "Kalonzo for President", 'The Nation' today reports.

The Kenyan President however indicated he now wanted to change the national agenda away from this defeat and split in government. President Kibaki said the debate on the referendum had made it clear that the people of Kenya have accorded high priority to the development agenda. Therefore, it was now "time for Kenyans to refocus their energies more intensively to development," which his government also would do.

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