By Daniel Ooko and Ben Ochieng
NAIROBI, Aug. 27 (Xinhua)--Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Friday promulgated the country's new constitution at a colourful ceremony in Nairobi that was accorded full military honours including a 21-gun salute.
|Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki gets ready to sign the instruments of the promulgation|
of the new constitution in Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 27, 2010. (Xinhua/Liu Chan)
Speaking during the historic event that was attended by several current and former African heads of state, diplomats and thousands of citizens from all walks of life, the president saluted Kenyans for their courage, patience and determination during the long and sometimes painful journey that gave birth to the new constitution.
"This moment marks the decisive conclusion of the 20-year journey in search of a new constitutional order. This new constitution is an embodiment of our best hopes, aspirations, ideals and values for a peaceful and more prosperous nation," Kibaki said. The Kenyan leader, who signed six documents, said Kenyans should be proud for making history as one of the few nations in the world that have successfully replaced their constitution in an atmosphere of peace.
"Today is a great day for Kenya. I salute all Kenyan citizens wherever they are. I feel honored to be your President at this moment because this is the most important day in the history of our nation since independence."
The President appreciated all those who have contributed intellectually as well as through sheer hard work and commitment to the realization of the new constitution and paid tribute to all those patriotic Kenyans who suffered injuries or lost their lives, freedom and property in the struggle for the new constitution.
President Kibaki pointed out that the new constitution gives the country an opportunity to decisively conquer the challenges that face Kenyans and provides an avenue to renew the fight against unemployment and poverty.
"Through a referendum, on Aug. 4, we, the people of Kenya, on the basis of our own free will, overwhelmingly voted to renew our nation and usher in the Second Republic," President Kibaki said.
The president added that the new constitution also provides Kenyans with an opportunity to work and become a developed people and nation.
"This constitution will fundamentally transform our nation politically, economically and socially. Some of the changes will be immediate and we must be ready to support them. Other changes will take time. We must remain resilient and focused as we work towards their fulfillment," President Kibaki said.
Emphasizing that the new Constitution gives Kenyans a renewed optimism about their country and its future, President Kibaki said a lot has been achieved towards turning the country into a prosperous, healthy and developed nation since the birth of the first republic but much more work remains to be done.
He said that although the changes envisaged in the new constitution will present some challenges along the way, the new set of law gives the country better structures of governance to address those challenges more efficiently and citizens resolve to complete the journey of the nation's transformation must remain firm.
Kibaki asked all Kenyans to keep in mind the vision of the new Kenya where people will no longer live in absolute poverty or facing unemployment and food insecurity will be a thing of the past as the country embarks on the journey of national renewal.
"We are on the march towards a New Kenya where there will be more opportunities for employment and business. A New Kenya where there is better housing, healthcare and education for our people. A New Kenya where all citizens will lead productive and dignified lives. This is the promise of the New Constitution."
The president observed with the talented and hard working population that the country is blessed with, the new constitution is also a promise that every Kenyan, young and old, man or woman, will unleash their full potential.
"This is more so because we are a people with a diverse range of cultures, languages and other sources of human inspiration. The New Constitution accords each person, group of persons and cultures a place in the process of unprecedented social cohesion and national integration," the president said. He urged the people of Kenya, from this day on, to embrace a new national spirit inclusiveness, tolerance, harmony and unity.
President Kibaki, particularly, appealed to Kenyans, individually and collectively, to build a nation that will be socially and economically inclusive and cohesive where all have equal access and opportunities to realize their full potential.
To the country's youth, the president assured them that the new constitutional dispensation will create opportunities that will lead to the attainment of their goals and dreams.
"I see in the youth of Kenya a lot of promise, energy and creativity. As a country, we have to invest in our youth to enable them to harness their potential. It is the empowered youth that will make this country globally competitive," he said.
President Kibaki observed that the new constitution will also usher in new ways of conducting public affairs, particularly in the elected and appointed state and public offices.
"This Constitution's leadership code and values makes it clear that people who will present themselves for public or state offices will have to be individuals of integrity, willing to be held accountable by the people and the institutions and laws of our country."
The President emphasized that the Grand Coalition Government has provided the required leadership for delivering the new constitution and is ready and fully committed to providing continued leadership in the implementation of the constitution.
The President also took the opportunity to thank Kenya's international friends for their support and encouragement as the country sought a new constitution and thanked the heads of state and government and all other distinguished foreign guests for honoring Kenya with their presence to witness the ushering in of the new constitution and the birth of the second republic.
"I am confident that this Constitution will endure and stand the test of time. The dawn of a new era is upon us. Let us seize the moment with courage because the birth of the Second Republic holds great promise for the Kenyan people," the President said.
Addressing the euphoric crowd, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that Kenyans has unanimously decided on their own free will to chart a new path for their future.
The prime minister noted that the new Constitution gives Kenyans renewed hope and opened a new chapter after collectively burying dictatorship and bad governance.