U.S. pledges assistance if new law passed in Kenya (2)

07:52, July 09, 2010      

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Several prominent Kenyan Christian leaders have urged their supporters to vote the constitution down though most recent polls indicate that it will pass.

Earlier, Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka expressed confidence that the draft constitution will pass on August 4 during the referendum.

The vice president who was speaking while receiving the eight visiting U.S. Congressmen led by Minnesota Legislator Payne said if the referendum were held today it would pass.

"President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and I are intensifying campaigns for the adoption of the constitution and if the referendum was to be held today it could pass. The only question is by what margin," said Musyoka.

The vice president regretted that just like in 2005 the country is again being subjected into a contested referendum.

"It was my hope that the country would go through a non- contested referendum so as to foster national cohesion. Unfortunately that has not been the case and so we have to campaign to pass the new law," he said.

He also briefed the America legislators on the situation in Somalia, adding that more international support is required to stabilize the country.

For his part, Payne said the congress people were in the country as part of the parliamentary progress program between the two sides and wished Kenyans well in the referendum period. "We have chief parliamentarian and other staff who have discussed with Kenyan MPs budget process as part of our partnership," Payne said, adding that Washington will also extend assistance in the establishment of two-chamber Parliament as envisaged in the proposed constitution.

The adoption of a new constitution is a key element of a power- sharing deal brokered by former UN chief Kofi Annan that ended the post-election violence that killed 1,300 Kenyans and displaced another 650,000 others.

The last constitutional referendum in 2005 ended with the defeat of the government-backed "yes" camp, prompting President Mwai Kibaki to dissolve the cabinet and rename a fresh one without the ministers who opposed it.

Source: Xinhua
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