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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora