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It's too early to say you support a referendum

In Summary

• Should we move to a parliamentary system with a ceremonial president?

• How do we protect devolution without keeping 47 counties?

Voters queue at the Old Kibera Primary Sch polling station to cast their votes at the referendum for the constitution in 2010.
Voters queue at the Old Kibera Primary Sch polling station to cast their votes at the referendum for the constitution in 2010.
Image: FILE

The debate about whether to support a referendum is premature.

A referendum is a vote to ask the population whether they support something. In 2010 Kenyans voted in a referendum to adopt the new constitution but a referendum could equally well be about another popular issue. For instance, in 2016 voters in the United Kingdom narrowly voted to leave the European Union.

So it is putting the cart before the donkey to say that you support a referendum or don't support it. We can only decide whether we support a referendum when we know what the question(s) will be.

 
 

Obviously, there are issues that need to be addressed. Some people think it is too expensive to have 47 counties. But how will we protect the benefits of devolution?

Many people feel that the winner-takes-all presidency is divisive and we should move to a parliamentary system. But will the new system have an elected ceremonial president and an executive Prime Minister chosen by a majority of MPs?

Until we know what is proposed, we cannot decide whether a referendum will be constructive or not.

The Building Bridges Initiative has been collecting views from across the country. When it has reported, then we can decide if we support a referendum.

Quote of the day: "I'm not aiming for the Nobel Peace Prize!"

Omar Bongo
The President of Gabon died on 8 June, 2009