Kenya gets new American-style constitution

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki Friday signed into law a long-awaited new constitution.

Nairobi: Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki Friday signed into law a long-awaited new constitution, weeks after it was passed in a national referendum.

A massive crowd gathered to watch the president sign the document, which is part of a reform process aimed at preventing a repeat of the violence that followed disputed presidential elections in December 2007, at a ceremony in the city centre Uhuru Park.

The assembled masses cheered as Kibaki waved the document in the air triumphantly, before a 21-gun salute and the hoisting a giant national flag heralded the dawn of what politicians are referring to as "the second Kenyan republic".

The constitution, which replaces the document created after Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963, aims to peg back the power of the president through establishing a two-tier parliament and decentralising power.

Many believe that transferring some control from the executive branch would reduce the stakes in future presidential elections. In the past, whichever tribe has gained control of the presidency has seen great benefit, leading to clashes such as those at the presidential elections.

More than 1,300 people died in the tribal clashes that followed opposition accusations the elections were rigged in favour of Kibaki.

The constitution also paves the way for land reform, and could see land that was dished out through cronyism under previous regimes be taken back by the state.

Analysts say the new constitution should boost East Africa`s largest economy, which has struggled over the last few years due to the post-election violence and the global recession.


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