By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU, EMEKA-MAYAKA GEKARA and OLIVER MATHENGEAt exactly 8.40pm on Thursday night, August 5,2010, the national electoral agency declared the proposed Constitution ratified. The Interim Independent Electoral Commission declared that 5,954,767 Kenyans had given the document a thumbs up in the second referendum to be carried out in Kenya.
A total of 2,687,193 voted to reject the document. The total voter turnout,according to IIEC chairman Isaac Hassan was 71 per cent .
“The constitution has therefore been approved by more than 50 per cent of all votes cast and has also been approved and received support of over 25 per cent in all provinces of Kenya. The proposed new Constitution is hereby ratified,” Mr Hassan said amid cheers from the retinue of ‘Yes’ supporters in the audience.
He added: “This is not a victory for any group. It is a victory for Kenya. It is now very important for the country to move forward and unite the country.” He alluded to amendments as the only reason for the minority to have their say while the majority had their way.
‘We’ve proved to ourselves and others that we are better than what we were in 2008. It is the birth of a new republic,” he said and was granted a standing ovation by the enthusiastic audience. Then the whole auditorium sang the full national anthem stanza by stanza, word for word.
Mr Hassan was a composed man as he read his speech on the podium, reeling out the mandate, history and achievements of the IIEC in its 15-month tenure. The commissioners took office on May 8, 2009.
Though some constituencies had not filed their vote tally with the commission, the chairman used the discretion granted to him in law to announce the final tally as the three constituencies which were remaining would only make negligible change to the final tally.
“We appreciate Kenyans’ enthusiasm to the process, especially the electronic voter registration,” said Mr Hassan as he thanked government, civil society, media and government for supporting the commission.
“Conducting the referendum has given the IIEC an opportunity to learn lessons, to improve with the times,” he said. Voter education is top on the list of lessons learnt given the high number of rejected and disputed votes witnessed in this voting exercise.
Missing names in the voters’, distribution of election material will also be streamlined. Mr Hassan said. An extensive review of the exercise will be conducted to help the commission tighten the loose-ends in the processs.
The official release of the results officially put the matter on the referendum to rest after what has been 90 days of grueling work for the staff and commissioners in trying to ensure that they deliver a free, fair and transparent result.
With the announcement, President Kibaki will now have 14 days to decide the date of promulgating the document. The President has already promised to announce the date when the proposed Constitution becomes law.
The commissioners took turns to announce the provincial tallies with Ms Winnie Guchu had the Nyanza Province results of 1,174,033 saying ‘Yes’ and 101,491 saying No. That’s 91 per cent ‘Yes’ and 8 per cent ‘No’.
Commissioner Davis Chirchir had the next bite on the cherry with results for Coast Province where ‘Yes’ got 425,626, while ‘No’ managed 111,531 of the votes.
Commissioner Hamara Ibrahim read out Nairobi’s results where ‘Yes’ got 678,621, while ‘No’ got 208,195.
Mr Ken Nyaundi was the next with the tally from North Eastern. With a turnout of 50.1 per cent, the province voted ‘Yes’ 110,992, while ‘No’ got a paltry 4,570 votes.
Dr Yusuf Nzibo also had a chance to read out the results for Eastern Province’s constituency, with ‘Yes’ going home with 741,089 votes, while ‘No’ got 572, 109 votes.
Ms Tiyah Galgalo also had a chance at the podium with Rift Valley Province results where ‘Yes’ camp garnered 668, 175, NO had 1,326,079 votes. This was minus the results of Saboti, Turkana North and Kapenguria constituencies.
Mr Abiud Simiyu had Central Province’s result with YES having 1,274,967 votes. NO had 235,588 votes.
Mr Douglas Mwashigadi had Western province’s results with YES getting 681,264, while NO emerged with 127,230 votes. Sirisia constituency had not filed its returns in Nairobi when the announcement came as the Returning Officer had not reached Nairobi yet.
The chief executive of the IIEC, Mr J.H. Oswago was full of praise for the commissioners and the IIEC team.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo and his permanent secretary Amina Mohammed were at the Bomas of Kenya auditorium –the national referendum tallying centre—to witness as the IIEC made the final verdict on the vote.
Lands Minister James Orengo, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o and former Justice Minister Martha Karua –all who ferociously campaigned for the endorsement of the Constitution at the vote—had front-row seats to witness the historic announcement from the IIEC chairman Isaack Hassan.
The national chief agent of the No campaign, Mr David Koech, and combative human rights activist Okiya Okoiti Omtatah were also in the hall to witness the final release of the results.
There was loads of clapping from the audience as the commissioners emerged to give the final tally. The clapping went on as IIEC’s advertisement jingle played on repeatedly on the speakers in the auditorium.
Committee of Experts member, Ms Njoki Ndung’u in a black suit, a red blouse and a dark-green scarf also clapped and swayed to the IIEC tune as she excitedly tapped her feet to the beat. Mr Omtata and dutch ambassador Laetitia van den Assum joined dozens of other civil society in the clapping.
Mr Mohammed Affey, that ODM-K nominated MP was also in the audience.
PS: This story was written by some people who had spent 39 hours on their feet, but amazingly, it gets published on a blog. Anyway, for the record, someone is bound to look out for the quotes and the whole story. And I can bet, here is where you will find it.