Yesterday, a large majority of the Kenyan people approved a new constitution through a referendum. Both the result and the peaceful conduct of the referendum present a great mandate for political reform in Kenya, which is supported by the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD).
Dutch support for a broad social and political alliance of democratic reformers has helped bring about a new constitution which limits the power of the president, and increases that of the parliament and the judiciary. The new constitution strengthens the position of women and minorities in the political process, brings public administration closer to citizens, and gives many other rights to Kenyans.
NIMD's partner in Kenya, the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD-K) played a very active role in preparing the new constitution, the subsequent information campaign and the organisation of the referendum.
The Centre, in which all political parties are represented, contributed to the establishment of a political consensus on the constitutional proposals. In addition, CMD-K launched a national information campaign on the new constitution. A popular, abridged version of the new Constitution in an edition of one million copies was also printed. In a special broadcast on all radio and TV stations, CMD-K stressed the importance of the new constitution for peaceful reform in Kenya.
Finally, on the day of the referendum CMD-K managed the deployment of 20,000 volunteers for the counting of votes and the staffing of polling stations across the country.
The peaceful conduct of the referendum and its good organisation is a credit to the new independent electoral commission. It will certainly help to restore the population’s confidence in fair elections when parliamentary and presidential elections take place in 2012.
The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) is a democratic organisation of political parties in the Netherlands in support of political parties in young democracies. NIMD was founded in 2000 by seven parties (CDA, PvdA, VVD, GroenLinks, D66, Christian Union and SGP) and works with more than 150 political parties from 16 countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe.
Image from the Committee of Experts website.