Kenya referendum opens new chapter

2010-08-05 08:47

Nairobi - Kenyan papers anticipated final referendum results Thursday to celebrate a new chapter in the country's history opened by a peaceful polling process and what looked like overwhelming support for a new constitution.

"Kenya Says Yes" read the top-selling Daily Nation's front page, in a headline echoing its rival The Standard which proclaimed "Yes It Is".

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission had not yet announced a victor but with more than half of the ballots cast on Wednesday already tallied, the "yes" camp had secured twice as many votes as the "no" camp.

The Standard said the peaceful voting process, which many had feared could see a repeat of the 2007-2008 deadly election violence, marked a new dawn.

"The traditional mayhem that has preceded and accompanied successive general elections was a distant memory buried by the orderly queues yesterday," the daily said in an editorial.

The violence that broke out two and half years ago killed 1 500 people, fuelled tribal politics, undermined voters' confidence in their institutions and shattered Kenya's image as a beacon of regional stability.

"Because a referendum is a vote of confidence in our electoral system, democratic principles as well as the will to co-exist peacefully, despite our divergent political opinions, religious affiliations, ethnic grouping or racial profile, this particular one has marked closure of one chapter and ushered in another," the Standard said.

With counting still under way on Thursday, the Daily Nation urged the losers to accept the results gracefully and ensure that the differences voiced during the campaign were ironed out.

"It is our hope that the atmosphere of peace and calm, which prevailed during the voting, will be replicated throughout until a verdict is delivered," the newspaper said in an editorial.