Pro-reform camp declares victory in constitution referendum


Supporters of Kenya's proposed new constitution have declared victory in the country's national referendum, after provisional results indicated that voters backed the reform by a majority of around two to one. With over six million ballots counted so far, roughly 67 per cent of participants appear to have supported the constitutional reforms put to the vote in Wednesday's referendum.


The victory is not yet confirmed by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission but will be shortly, said Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi, who heads the "yes" campaign's secretariat.

The "yes" camp, led by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, already has 4.1 million votes to the "no" camp's two million, according to the latest count on Thursday morning.

Some 12.4 million people were eligible to vote in the referendum, around 70 per cent of whom are thought to have turned out.

According to that estimate, the pro-reform side would need about 4.3 million ballots to secure victory.

The Kenyan press was already anticipating that the proposed constitution would be passed in its Thursday morning editions.

"Kenya Says Yes," read the Daily Nation's headline, while The Standard proclaimed "Yes It Is".

The largely peaceful vote on Wednesday marked a new dawn for Kenya after the violence that followed the country's December 2007 election, said The Standard's editorial, while the Daily Nation urged both sides to maintain the peace while the remaining votes were counted and after the final results were released.

If the constitution is approved, the "yes" camp will not celebrate at the expense of those who have vigorously opposed the reforms, assures a senior advisor to President Kibaki, Peter Kagwanja.

"The theme of this election is that of consensus building," Kagwanja told RFI. "That theme is going to run through the post-election period."

The Kenyan government wants to build "a democracy that is not a vindictive democracy," he said.

"Kenyans are fed up of the international image and reputation that they got after 2008, and to cleanse that, the constitution is emerging as an opportunity to forget that past and to construct a new future on the basis of a republican constitution," Kagwanja said.

The final count is due to be released later on Thursday.

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