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Huge Opposition Rally in Kenya Celebrates Defeat of Draft Constitution


In Kenya, thousands of people gathered to celebrate the defeat in Monday's referendum of draft constitution backed by the president. Calls for general elections met with thunderous applause at the rally.

Saturday's rally was sponsored by the organizers of the campaign to vote 'no' in the constitutional referendum, which has been dubbed the "orange movement," because the color came to symbolize supporters of a 'no' vote.

It was billed as a prayer meeting, and religious leaders opened the rally with prayers and reflections. Popular Christian preacher Bishop Margaret Wanjiru expressed her feelings.

"Today is a great day in heaven, and so it is here on this earth, on the side of Kenya," she said. "God's face has smiled upon this nation. So, we are so grateful to the Father and we thank Him for what He has done for us."

But following the prayers, orange movement leaders turned to the past week's political developments. Following the defeat of the draft constitution, President Mwai Kibaki dismissed his Cabinet and suspended Parliament indefinitely.

Speakers said the referendum defeating the draft constitution amounted to a vote of no-confidence in Mr. Kibaki and his government.

Member of Parliament Otieno Kajwang was one of many speakers who called for elections.

"One hundred and fifty three constituencies in the entire country have supported the orange movement," he noted. "So, if you go to parliament, you're going to talk with a minority in parliament. So, I think the best solution is a general election."

Calls for elections met with thunderous applause from the crowd.

Among those attending Saturday's rally were representatives from Britain, Germany, Nigeria and the Philippines.

One day earlier, envoys from the United States, Britain, Sweden and the European Union met with Mr. Kibaki at State House at the government's request.

Kenyan media reported they discussed the referendum, the firing of the Cabinet, and the suspension of parliament. According to reports in the Kenyan media, the diplomats expressed concern about peace and stability in the country.

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