KENYA: Green and Red, Symbols for Referendum

NAIROBI, May 18, 2010 (CISA) -Kenyans have moved another step closer to approving or rejecting the Proposed Constitution with the announcement of the referendum symbols.

After sifting through more than 350 proposed symbols submitted by Kenyans ­ including forks, spoons, trees and even the moon ­ the poll managers finally gave their verdict: the word YES on a green background for those supporting the proposed constitution, and the word NO on a red background for those opposing it.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), which had received a number of suggestions including those of animals such as rhinos, elephants and buffaloes, settled on the two colours after a long deliberation. In the 2005 referendum, the Banana stood for ‘Yes’ and the Orange for ‘No.’

”Do you approve the proposed new Constitution?’’ is the question that voters will have to answer in the August 4 vote.

Two groups have emerged with one for and another against the Proposed Constitution.

The Yes side includes a political grouping led by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga that launched the ‘Yes’ campaign in Nairobi on Saturday. They are also supported by several civil society groupings and some religious groups.

On the other hand, the No side include a group of politicians led by Higher Education minister William Ruto and National Council of Christian Churches (NCCK) secretary Canon Peter Karanja.

The electoral body also announced the referendum regulations which will govern the conduct of the referendum. The regulations allow the different camps to form committees at the national and constituency levels.

The committees will not be registered if their logo and names resemble those of any of the 47 registered political parties or are similar to those used in the 2005 referendum.

The rules also indicate that the application should indicate the electoral areas in which the committee intends to support or oppose the referendum question.

The regulations indicate that the proposed laws can only be passed after acquiring 50 per cent plus one of the votes cast and 25 per cent in five of the eight provinces. In case the referendum results in a tie, the Commission shall proceed to hold a fresh referendum.

If the draft law passes the referendum test, President Kibaki has two weeks to promulgate the new constitution.

During this period, anyone can challenge the result in the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court.

Meanwhile, civic education on the proposed constitution has not taken off 10 days since the draft was published.

The Committee of Experts (CoE) is straddled by lack of funds caused by failure of the Treasury to release Ksh.230M, leaving the CoE with only 20 days to educate the Kenyan public before they vote at the referendum in August.

At the same time, civic education in the country that has often relied heavily on Churches and other NGOs has been hit heavily by the lack of funds due to the stand of most Church leaders.

Investigations by CISA have revealed that most donors to Church related programs on civic education are withholding funds on the grounds that the churches are opposed to the passing of the proposed constitution.

The lack of funds for civic education, which is supposed to be conducted by the CoE and other non state parties, church organizations among others, is likely to open a window for politicians to manipulate the public on the contents of the proposed constitution.

Action on behalf of justice is a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel.
Justice in the World – 1971 Synod of Bishops