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Statement by U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger

April 7, 2010

The Government of the United States welcomes Parliament’s overwhelming approval of Kenya’s harmonized draft constitution.  The strong statements made by the President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga urging support of the draft constitution are particularly encouraging.  The leaders of the coalition government have sent a clear and positive message to the Kenyan people that the implementation of a new constitution is critical to achieving political reform.

We urge the leaders of the coalition government, civil society, and religious leaders to maintain positive momentum as Kenya moves towards a national referendum on the draft constitution.  Unity in support of the draft will bring the Kenyan people together and establish a framework which will greatly improve prospects for democratic stability and shared prosperity for all Kenyans.

No political process and no constitution is perfect – including those of the United States – but the proposed new constitution contains checks and balances which will ensure greater accountability and adherence to the rule of law.  The new constitution will, therefore, secure and protect the interests of all communities and regions of the country.

As the focus of Kenyans now turns to the constitutional referendum, it is essential that the government of Kenya adequately support the Interim Independent Electoral Commission.  In the next few months the Commission will require resources for an inclusive and comprehensive voter registration exercise, a robust civic education campaign, and the materials necessary for a free and fair referendum.

Parliament’s passage of the draft constitution is a milestone in the implementation of the reform agenda.  As the constitution moves forward, we continue to urge Kenya’s leaders to complement this major step by accelerating implementation of the full range of Agenda 4 reforms.

The United States will support a vigorous process of civic education to help ensure that the Kenyan people can make well-informed decisions.  We will continue to support preparations for a credible and transparent referendum, and the implementation of the reform agenda.