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Kenyan Protests


Opponents of Kenya's president, Mwai Kibaki have been demonstrating against the government. Protestors include former road minister Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the late Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president.

Mr. Kibaki banned political rallies after Kenyans rejected a proposed new constitution. In the wake of his acknowledgement of the defeat of the proposed constitution, he fired his cabinet and suspended the return of parliament until March 2006.

Some two-and-a-half million Kenyans voted in favor of the new constitution while more than three-and-a-half million rejected it. William Ruto, one of the opponents, says, "Our rallies will go on."

Those who opposed the new constitution say it would have given too much power to the president. The opposition has been dubbed "the orange movement" for the fruit pictured on the ballot that symbolized a "no" vote. Opposition leaders contend that the rejection of the proposed constitution means that Kenyans have lost confidence in Mr. Kibaki's government. Otieno Kajwang, a member of Kenya's parliament, is calling for new elections:

"One-hundred-fifty-three constituencies in the entire country have supported the orange movement.... I think the best solution is a general election."

"It is time for restraint," says Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel peace prize and a former deputy environmental minister in Mr. Kibaki's government. "Leaders must now remove the barrier which divided Kenyans and now threatens justice and security," she says. "For the orange team," she says, "humility and restrict in victory is not easy, but that is what the country needs."

The rejection of a new constitution, says U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, "reflects the will of the Kenyan people."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.

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