News / Africa

    Landmark Moment as New Kenyan Constitution Takes Effect

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Michael Onyiego

    In an historic ceremony Friday morning, thousands of Kenyan's gathered to witness the establishment of a new constitution in the east African nation. The implementation of the new document is being hailed across the country as the birth of the second Kenyan Republic.

    Despite gray skies and light rain, an estimated 10,000 packed into Nairobi's Uhuru Park to take part in the much anticipated Promulgation Day festivities.

    The parade ground was filled with excitement as onlookers cheered visiting dignitaries and Kenyan leaders entering the venue. Recently re-elected Rwandan President Paul Kagame received a particularly warm reception from the Kenyan crowd as he took his seat. The event was attended by a handful of other African leaders, including the controversial Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Mr. Bashir, recently indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and genocide, was met with silence by the otherwise boisterous crowd.

    The event was as much a formal procedure as a celebration of Kenyan society, replete with a full display of the country's military might, traditional dancers from Kenya's various ethnic groups and an appearance by many of the country's champion runners.

    The historic ceremony took place just three weeks after Kenya approved the new constitution through an August 4th referendum. The day was billed as a celebration of national unity and diversity, with much symbolism reinforcing that message, but there were signs of lingering resentment from contentious debate regarding the constitution.

    Former President Daniel Moi, one of the most vocal opponents of the new constitution, received audible jeers from the crowd upon entering the park. Catholic Cardinal John Njue, who strongly opposed the document over its clauses on abortion, was heckled by many onlookers as he delivered a prayer to open the ceremony.

    The event was otherwise peaceful and representative of a collective pride in finally establishing a new set of laws for the nation. With the thousands in attendance looking on President Mwai Kibaki signed the Instruments of Promulgation and declared Kenya's new constitution.

    Mr. Kibaki: "I, Mwai Kibaki, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kenya, declare that the constitution set out in the schedule shall be the new constitution of Kenya, in effect from the 27th August, the year 2010."

    President Mwai Kibaki has been one of the new constitution's most visible proponents since the beginning of the reform process. Many believe that Friday's ceremony will be the crowning achievement of the two-term president's legacy, as he prepares to leave office in 2012.

    After President Kibaki signed the document, he and other members of Kenya's executive and judiciary swore oaths under the new constitution.

    Perhaps the loudest cheers of the morning came as Prime Minister Raila Odinga took his oath of allegiance. The popular leader, expected by many to become the next president, worked the crowd into a frenzy as he swore his allegiance to the country.

    Odinga: "I, Raila Omolo Odinga, in full realization of the high calling as the prime minister of the Republic of Kenya do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Republic of Kenya, that I will obey, preserve, protect and defend this constitution of Kenya as by law established and all other laws of the republic, and that I will protect and uphold the sovereignty, integrity and dignity of the people of Kenya, so help me God."

    The new constitution's entrance into force marks what many have called the birth of the second Kenyan Republic. The former constitution, in place since independence from Britain 1963, was seen by many as a relic of the colonial era. Kenya has been trying to replace the document since the early 1990s, but deep political and ethnic divisions within Kenyan society blocked all previous attempts.

    In many ways the foundation for this new era was laid in 2008 during post-election chaos that left over 1,000 dead. After President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga disputed the results of the December 2007 presidential elections, nearly two months of ethnic violence swept across the country.

    The peace agreement forged between the two leaders formed a Government of National Unity and set in motion the process of constitutional reform. The cooperation of the two principles along with the widespread support of the process has inspired international confidence in Kenya's democracy.

    Kenya will now begin the process of transition to the new constitution. While many provisions in the document take immediate effect, changes to the country's governing structure will be phased in gradually, and the new set of laws is not expected to be fully operational until after the presidential elections in 2012.

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, the history of take-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora