Bloomberg News

Kenya Plans Constitutional Amendment to Delay Elections

September 13, 2011

(Updates with comment by analyst in sixth paragraph.)

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s Cabinet proposed the first amendment to the East African nation’s one-year-old constitution to postpone national elections by four months to allow time to prepare for the vote.

Article 101 of the current constitution, signed into law in August 2010, says elections should be held on the second Tuesday of August every fifth year. Under the proposal, a vote scheduled for next year would be held on Dec. 17 and not Aug. 14.

“Cabinet found the date to be appropriate in view of the government budgetary cycle and the time required for preparations for the next elections,” it said in a statement e- mailed by the Presidential Press Service in Nairobi, the capital, today.

Ethnic clashes erupted after Kenya’s last election in December 2007 when the result was disputed by supporters of incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, and his main rival Raila Odinga, the current prime minister. The new constitution was promised in a power-sharing accord reached in February 2008 that ended two months of violence in which an estimated 1,500 people died and another 300,000 were forced to flee their homes.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who helped broker the agreement, said last month Kenya must enact “key” political reforms, including appointing new commissioners to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, before the next elections are held.

The proposed amendment will probably be passed by lawmakers because this type of change to the constitution requires only a two-thirds majority vote in parliament, not a referendum as other articles require, Paul Muite, a former member of parliament and lawyer, said by phone from Nairobi today.

Kenya, East Africa’s biggest economy, is the world’s biggest exporter of black tea.

--Editors: Paul Richardson, Karl Maier.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net; Johnstone Ole Turana in Nairobi at jturana@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson in Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.


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