Leading article: A victory for peace and stability

Share
Related Topics

It is rare to be able to hail anything in international politics as an unadulterated success, but this week's constitutional referendum in Kenya must come pretty close. Less than three years after a disputed election almost threatened the country's very survival, Kenyans have voted in a referendum that appears to have been exemplary in almost every respect.

With the exception of a grenade attack on a rally in Nairobi, there was little violence. From the simplicity of the question to the orderly conduct of the vote, to the speed of the count, the whole process passed off smoothly. Yesterday brought a formal concession from the No campaigners, who accepted a vote that had gone more than two to one against them. That swift and unqualified acceptance of the majority verdict is itself a promising sign.

There are a few caveats; the one region of the country where the No vote gained a majority was in the Rift Valley, the rich and fertile province where the post- election violence was fiercest in 2007. The leader of the No campaign, William Ruto, comes from there and plans to stand for the presidency next time around. This could sow seeds of renewed discord – or, more optimistically, presage a healthy contest. Some of the provisions of the new constitution – especially those with a religious dimension – proved especially contentious during the campaign and could fuel disputes in the future.

Overwhelmingly, though, this constitution should benefit Kenya, both in the manner of its adoption and in its content. Democracy stands to be enhanced by the diminution of presidential power and the devolution of authority to the local level, which also has the potential to defuse the ethnic and religious tensions that proved so destructive three years ago.

Perhaps the most hopeful aspect of all is the creation of a land commission to arbitrate in disputes, with the power to reverse illegal acquisitions. In Kenya, as in so much of Africa, land disputes have been among the most poisonous legacies of colonial times and helped spark the violence of 2007. If the commission can establish its authority successfully, it will do more than almost anything else to keep the peace in Kenya.

The leader of the Yes campaign, Kiraitu Murungi, described the result as "the rebirth of a second Republic of Kenya". That depends on what happens next. But for now, the new constitution – promised as part of the peace deal concluded three years ago – is the best guarantee that such troubled times will not return.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Job

£5k: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Head of Marketing - Pensions

£65000 - £75000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

SEN (Visual Impairement) Tutor

£120 - £180 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are looki...

School Receptionist

£70 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: School Receptionist - Part ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

A long way to go before we reach Dave Eggers's digital dystopia

Memphis Barker
 

August catch-up: dress to impress, words to use more often, and the end of the internet

John Rentoul
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis