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The people of Kenya have been calling for a new constitution for many years, concerned that the basic document of government adopted when the nation gained independence in the early 1960s has not kept pace with its development since then. They are now getting that chance, with the drafting of a document that seeks to create a new consensus on the manner in which the country is governed.
Among its many provisions, the draft proposes changing the position of president to a popularly elected chief executive with powers to oversee, unite and protect the country, while leaving day-to-day authority of government to a prime minister who represents the party or political coalition with a majority in parliament. That body would be constituted as a Senate and National Assembly. Regional governments would be created with autonomy to govern and their own reliable revenue sources, as well as links to the Senate to participate in the formation of national legislation.
The draft's publication for public review and comment represents a major milestone in the reform agenda so important to Kenya's future. Development and ratification of a new constitution will provide a solid foundation for a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.
The United States hails the effort and encourages all Kenyans to engage in a constructive and substantive dialogue on the process, which is expected to culminate in a referendum on a new constitution next June. This is also a time for President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga to demonstrate their leadership and commitment to a peaceful future by working together to craft a document that will serve the national interest for generations to come.