Kenyans vote in statute referendum

NAIROBI: Kenyans voted on Monday in a referendum on a draft constitution that would revise the charter for the first time since the country gained independence from Britain. But scores said their names were missing from voters' rolls, and observers reported some cases of suspected vote buying. President Mwai Kibaki has said the proposed changes to the charter — which has been in place since 1963 — is designed to curb decades of abuse of power by the country's leaders. But opponents of the draft charter say that it further entrenches the President's enormous powers. Both sides of the campaign also have turned the referendum into a vote on the Kibaki administration, elected in 2002 on a platform of fighting corruption, reforming the Government, curbing unemployment and improving conditions for Kenyans. Many voters lined up before polls opened. Electoral Commission of Kenya spokesman Mani Lemaiyan said there were no turnout figures yet. Initial results were expected late on Monday. Kenyans were casting ballots at more than 19,000 polling stations across the country, marking their ballots with a banana for ``yes'' or an orange for ``no.'' The country has about 11.6 million registered voters out of a population of 34 million. In parts of western and eastern Kenya, supporters of the draft constitution were reported to be paying people to vote for the charter, said Koki Muli, spokeswoman for local election observers. — AP