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Statement by the U.S. Embassy

July 12, 2010

As Kenya approaches the constitutional referendum on August 4, Kenyans from all walks of life—civil society activists, politicians, religious leaders, professionals, youth and wananchi—are carefully studying the draft constitution and discussing its provisions.  There is no more important process for achieving the reforms set out in the National Accord than the constitutional review process.  Every Kenyan has a responsibility to respect the views of fellow citizens, pursue peaceful dialogue, and defend the truth in this crucial national conversation.

Regrettably, some leaders have approached the constitutional referendum through the lens of divisiveness and negative ethnicity rather than a process that can unify and heal the nation.

Recently, those leaders have alleged that Ambassador Ranneberger and the U.S. Embassy are providing funding to Members of Parliament to support the “yes” campaign or are intimidating opponents to the constitution.  These claims are categorically false, and those making such allegations are lying. 

The U.S. Government is supporting the constitutional review process as the centerpiece of the broad reform agenda agreed to following the post-election crisis.

U.S. views are clear.  President Obama stated: “…this is a singular opportunity to put Kenyan governance on a more solid footing that can move beyond ethnic violence, can move beyond corruption, can move the country towards a path of economic prosperity.  And so I hope that everybody participates, everybody takes advantage of this moment, and those who would try to undermine this process I think are making a big mistake.”

During his recent visit Vice President Biden stated:  “Putting in place a new constitution…will…unleash the energy of the youth, deepen the roots of your democracy, and ultimately guarantee your security.”  “You have before you,” The Vice President stated a “singular opportunity to strengthen Kenya’s democratic institutions, none like since the evening at midnight that the flag was unfurled, an opportunity to…help Kenya realize its immense potential.”  The Vice President urged Kenyans “to resist those who try to divide you based on ethnicity or religion or region” and said “above all, fear is a tool as old as mankind…Now Kenyans must make a deliberate and difficult choice – to reject the divisive politics, to reconcile their communities.” “Fundamental change,” he stated “is within your reach.”

The referendum is in the hands of Kenyans.  They will be alone in the voting booth, voting their conscience.  The U.S. Government stands with the people of Kenya.  We encourage the Kenyan people to vote in a free and fair referendum, towards a peaceful and prosperous future.