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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas