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Obama congratulates people of Kenya on 'peaceful' vote

US President Barack Obama has congratulated Kenya for successfully holding a "peaceful and transparent" constitutional referendum.

world Updated: Aug 06, 2010 12:49 IST

US President Barack Obama has congratulated Kenya for successfully holding a "peaceful and transparent" constitutional referendum.

The US congratulates the Kenyan people and government on the holding of a "peaceful, transparent, and credible constitutional referendum", Obama said in a statement, adding "this was a significant step forward for Kenya's democracy".

"The peaceful nature of the election was a testament to the character of the Kenyan people. My Administration has been pleased to support Kenya's democratic development and the Kenyan people, including through the visit of Vice President Biden earlier this year," he said in the statement.

"The overwhelming approval of the proposed new constitution reflects the desire of the Kenyan people to put their country on a path toward improved governance, greater stability, and increased prosperity.

"As it is fully implemented, the new constitution can play a decisive role in achieving these objectives in a way which benefits all Kenyans," he said.

Kenyans across the political, social, and ethnic spectrum now have a chance to come together to support implementation through an inclusive dialogue. Reaching out to one another, Kenyans will be able to take advantage of this historic opportunity to move their country forward, he said.

"As Kenya's close friend and partner, the US will work with the international community to support the implementation process, and to stand with the Kenyan people as they reach for a better future," Obama said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this was the first time that Kenyans have participated in a national poll since the violence that followed the disputed 2007 presidential election.

Constitutional reform is the centerpiece of the reform agenda that Kenya has adopted for itself, she said.

"It is aimed at addressing the underlying causes of violence, and I commend the people of Kenya for participating in large numbers and exercising their right to vote in a peaceful manner," Clinton said.

While the final results are not in, it appears that about two-thirds of Kenyans have voted in favour of their new constitution.

"This is an indication that a very strong majority of Kenyans have voted for fundamental change," Clinton said.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said the referendum on the new constitution in Kenya was an important step forward for the nation's democratic process.

"While we are still waiting for official results, I support the thousands of Kenyan citizens who participated in this peaceful mechanism for political change," he said.