A Big Day in Kenya

Photograph: Dai Kurokawa/EPA

I’ll admit it.

I actually got a bit teary this morning when reading reports of the ratification of Kenya’s new constitution.

This is a big step for Kenya.

While the old constitution, which was drafted with the British colonizers in 1963, centralized power with the president and allowed for exploitation of tribal divisions, the new document, which was peacefully voted upon on August 5th, includes the creation of a Senate, a Citizens’ Bill of Rights and, most importantly, reduces presidential power.  Though a new constitution has been discussed for a couple of decades, the tribal violence following the 2007 presidential election is what finally propelled the discussion into action.

I feel compelled to add that wanted war criminal and Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, was in attendance.  That’s an unfortunate guest to have at such a momentous occasion, though I’m unclear as to how much power Kenya had to actually arrest him.  The African Union recently warned nations not to apprehend the al-Bashir while Human Rights Watch specifically asked Kenya to deny him entrance to the country and the event.

Surely this new constitution won’t solve all of Kenya’s problem, but it is a significant step in the right direction.

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