Kenya Votes In New Constitution, Early Results Show

Kenyan voters have approved a new constitution, according to preliminary results released Thursday, with almost 70% in favor. Leaders of the anti-constitution camp conceded defeat before the final result, expected to be announced by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission late Thursday. According to the preliminary results, about 5.2 million of the country's 12.7 million voters voted in favor of the constitution, which proponents said could end decades of poor governance and corruption, and 2.3 million opposed the draft. Ninety-two of the 210 constituencies had been counted. William Ruto, minister of higher education, one of the main opponents of the draft, said the "no" camp accepted the result. But he said the constitution had not passed by an overwhelming majority and called on government leaders who pushed the draft to meet with its opponents to amend the most contentious issues and bring more Kenyans on board.The draft had been opposed by Christian church leaders who objected to a provision that allowed abortion if a mother's life was at risk. They also opposed the inclusion of Islamic cadi courts, which govern family issues such as inheritance and marital matters for Muslims, calling them unconstitutional in a secular country. "Kenyans have spoken and we respect the decision. All Kenyans are winners," Ruto said. President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who both supported the draft, were expected to address the nation later Thursday. The new draft reduces the powers of the president, devolves powers to counties, abolishes the post of prime minister, creates a Senate and drastically halves the number of ministers to a maximum of 22.