Kenyans vote for new constitution with UN support

06 Aug 2010

Kenyans today had two reasons to celebrate – a peaceful referendum and a new constitution, endorsed by 67 percent of the voters. The ratification of the new constitution paves the way for the introduction of a number of measures including a bolstered bill of rights, devolution of power, land reform and new curbs on the president's powers.

The vote was conducted against the backdrop of the 2007 post-elections violence and subsequent reform priorities set out in the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Accord that was brokered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Since 2008, the UN has been working with the Government of Kenya and partners to implement an ambitious reform agenda to address the underlying causes of the post-elections violence.

The UN assisted with the drafting of the constitution, providing technical and financial support to key institutions involved in the process - the Committee of Experts on the Constitutional Review, the Interim Independent Elections Committee and the National Committee on Integration and Cohesion.

“Constitutional making is a very important process and Kenyans from all walks of life found it important to participate in this process. I want to congratulate them for not only exercising their democratic right to vote but also for maintaining peace throughout the voting period,” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Kenya, Aeneas Chuma today.

UNDP worked with the Committee of Experts on its civic education drive to familiarize the public with the content of the various versions of the document.

In the run up to the historic vote, UNDP also supported the Elections Committee to conduct a massive civic education campaign, as well as a national registration drive which saw some 12.4 million voters registered. We also helped recruit, train and deploy almost 200,000 polling clerks across the country, and introduced new technology for the immediate transmission of electoral data.

As part of the national effort to maintain peace during and after the referendum period, UNDP, civil society and the government set up the UWIANO (Cohesion) Peace Platform, an online early warning and rapid response system to map and share information such as incidences of hate speech and outbreaks of violence, allowing for relevant groups or authorities to take action as necessary.

For more information, contact:

Patterson Siema
UNDP Kenya Communications Specialist
Patterson.siema@undp.org