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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 13:18 GMT
Kenya press says listen to the people
Opponents of the proposed constituition celebrate in Nairobi
Celebrating an orange victory

Newspapers in Kenya have called on the government of President Mwai Kibaki to take a lesson from the rejection of the proposed new constitution in Monday's referendum and listen to the national clamour for genuine reform.

Commentators argue that many people were unhappy about what they saw as the tribalism inherent in the rejected constitution.


What is critical is how to proceed in the search for a new governance charter. It is a moment at which to look back and reflect on the long path to the referendum and to draw some valuable lessons... The big question remains: Where do we go from here? How do Kenyans come by a new constitution?... The government must yet again make the first move... The country needs a constitution that is all-inclusive, one that serves and protects everybody's interests, one that unites the people and, at the same time, celebrates diversity while fostering economic prosperity.


President Kibaki had it coming to him in a big way... This was a countrywide protest against his rule, and against the fact that he seems to have retreated into some laager of his own creation... It was also a protest against what is largely seen as Kikuyu [tribal] hegemony... In a country where almost every political issue is seen and judged through a tribal prism, the fact that the president surrounded himself with a clique of politicians and technocrats from one area of the country was never a plus for him... This is not to suggest that the president is mortally wounded. Far from it. After all, this is merely a referendum, not a presidential election, and Mr Kibaki is still on the driver's seat under the old constitution. How he handles this new situation, which demands Solomonic wisdom, will define how his presidency fares, and whether the ruling coalition survives to fight the next election in 2007.


The people of Kenya have spoken - loudly and clearly... They did not like the proposed new constitution... It shows quite clearly that the governors and the governed have not been speaking on the same wavelength on this matter... It is absolutely important that the government, and the president in particular, spearheads a deliberate and sustained process of national healing and reconciliation... The next reform process will have to be all-inclusive, legally sound and anchored in the firm belief that the constitution-making process must be grounded in the fears and hopes, loves and hates and aspirations of the people.


The losers in this referendum are powermongers that pass by the name 'kitchen cabinet' in President Kibaki's court. From the very moment Kibaki was elected president, they set on a journey of exclusion, greed and deceit. Positions they had taken publicly on the review process were ditched with alacrity as new more backward stances were adopted... As the dust settles, we must all remember that Kenya is greater than any individual community or region. Let those in the banana camp [supporters of draft law] be magnanimous and humble in victory. Let us showcase this country as a model of democracy, tolerance and justice.


All is well that ends well but new challenges await... We cannot afford to gloss over the results and how they impact on us... We can not pretend that it will be just business as usual. This referendum thing had divided Kenyans... It dredged tribalism and stoked factional mistrust... It nearly paralysed the Kibaki government... The challenge must be the pursuit of a document which devoid of political grandstanding, hankering for personal gain will aspire to capture the aspiration of every Kenyan, irrespective of gender, religion and tribe.


Kenyans have...opened new frontiers in the country's political landscape as President Mwai Kibaki and his men absorb the shock from the referendum... If true democracy had fully taken root in this country, President Kibaki would have sought fresh mandate from the electorate in the light of the outcome from the poll... With the referendum over, a new chapter has opened in the country's politics and much more waits to be seen including realignments, fall-outs and strategies... The orange team must see their victory as the beginning of a new challenge. A challenge which will not preoccupy itself with losing or winning but making the dispensation a win-win situation for that is what genuine constitution-making is all about.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

See votes being cast and counted in Kenya

In pictures: Kenyan referendum
22 Nov 05 |  In Pictures
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22 Nov 05 |  Have Your Say

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