Jerry Okungu - It's a clean break from old order - The Star

At last, Kenyans have decided that the old order must be history. The era of the imperial presidency and parliamentary dictatorship must be put behind us now. It is a feeling one gets after having had a good but gruelling fight.

With seven out of eight provinces voting for the new constitution, no sensible individual can fault Kenyans for demanding the necessary reforms in the new constitution.

After the votes were tallied, the Greens had a clear win by garnering more than 3 million votes above the Reds. At 70 per cent vote win, the Reds cannot claim unfairness.

And with international observers everywhere monitoring every step from the polling stations to the electronic relay centres and finally to the National Tallying Centre at the Bomas, this win is as convincing as any democratic process can be. As at 2.15pm, the Yes votes had reached 5,482, 698 and still counting against the Green side's 2,418,153 votes.

As a campaigner and a voter for the new constitution, I feel good because we decided to change our fortunes drastically. We learnt a bitter lesson in the 2007-2008 post-election violence when, due the recklessness of our leaders and poll referees, we subjected our people to unnecessary pain and conflict. And if there is one thing that this new constitution will be able to do, it will deal a deadly blow to the culture of impunity that has brought our country to its knees in the eyes of the international community.

As Kenyans, we can stand tall again and claim our place of pride among the community of nations. We have proved that we can reclaim our lost glory as a proud and democratic country capable of making our own decisions. This pride should be shared with all our member states of the East African Community and the rest of Africa at large.

The fact that nine million Kenyans woke up at dawn to line up and vote in the chilly weather and did so peacefully is a testimony that we have learnt something from our ugly recent past.

The 2007 elections were largely messed up by the political power elite that thought it unthinkable to have a peaceful regime change.

The nature of our culture of impunity where the political leadership exploited and oppressed the masses made it impossible for a clean political contest to take place. In the end, we had organised militias in the payrolls of political warlords take over our lives. We had all our highways blocked by hired goons and millions of shillings lost in burnt homes and property. A fresh ugly face of impunity gained currency causing the deaths of 1,500 innocent Kenyans while causing thousands more homeless.

Despite spirited and acrimonious campaigns in the run up to this year's referendum, the tones of our political leaders changed drastically to that of reconciliation urging Kenyans to vote peacefully.

And the fact that Kenyans chose to heed the peace calls from President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila, former President Moi and the Reds leader William Ruto was a clear demonstration that it is the politicians who always incite voters to go to the streets.

This time round, they called on them to remain calm despite the outcome which they obediently did.

As I wrote this article, something else happened in our election process that was not there in 2007. The Reds leader called a press conference and conceded defeat 18 hours after the polls closed. This early conceding of defeat even before the final votes were tallied indicated that politically we were coming of age.

The last time we had this kind of gesture was in 2002 when Uhuru Kenyatta conceded defeat against Kibaki.

However, in this early analysis of our referendum results, credit must go to the Interim Independent Electoral Commission led by Issack Hassan for running the polls as professionally as they could ever do.

The mere fact that the Commission went electronic in relaying provisional results right from the polling stations to the National Tallying Centre in Nairobi despite opposition from the Reds in itself speaks volumes.

The mere fact that these provisional results were also availed to all media networks was a plus in the process. This decision made Kenyans and the rest of the world to follow the proceedings in detail and this implied transparency and accountability made it impossible for anybody to even think of rigging the polls.

There is one incident that happened in Western Kenya that served as a lesson to would-be election riggers. A poll supervisor who announced the wrong results was immediately arrested by a presiding officer and instantly appeared in court yesterday morning. It is this kind of act that can clean Kenya's politics.

If this Kenyan experience cannot be a good lesson to the rest of Africa, then it is difficult to know what can be called good best practice for the rest of the continent to emulate.

The writer is a media consultant.

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