U.S. Taxpayers Funding Constitution Vote in Kenya?

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Kenya's president praised the passage of a new constitution Thursday as a 'national renewal."

However, religious leaders fear the document, backed by 70 percent of the nation's voters, will take the country down a dangerous path.

Some Kenyans waited as many as five hours to cast their votes on the proposed new constitution which sets up an American-style presidential system.

What are the dangers of the Islamic Courts provision in the new Kenya constitution? Jordon Sekulow, with the American Center for Law and Justice which has worked with its sister organization in Kenya, explains. Click here for his insight.

The constitution drastically reduces the current powers of Kenya's president. It also includes controversial provisions on abortion and Sharia law, one reason why Christians are encouraging citizens to vote "No."

Under current law, abortion is allowed only when a mothers life is in danger. But religious leaders fear the new language in the document will allow abortion on demand.

The Obama administration and other leaders are encouraging Kenyans to approve the constitution. Rep. Smith was outraged to learn that more than $23 million in U.S. aid was sent to Kenya to promote "yes" votes.

"This is an administration that is very aggressive in promoting the killing of unborn children and the wounding of their mothers by way of abortion worldwide," Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said.

He said donations labeled as "civic education" were used to register tens of thousands of voters and to provide transportation to the polls to create an "overrepresentation" of the "yes" vote.

The constitution also allows Muslims to set up Sharia courts called "Khadi" - courts that will handle domestic issues like divorce, custody, and inheritance.

"The thought of the United States taxpayer paying money for Sharia courts in Kenya is unbelievable," Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va, said.

The new constitution protects Kenyans from discrimination based on race, gender, or religion. But it allows those rights to be limited to the extent necessary in Islamic courts.

Some fear that puts Muslim women at risk.

"You had the Islamic community actually threatening, that says, 'If we don't get the Khadi court system in the constitution, we'll break off from Kenya.' So there is a separatist movement being threatened on the proposed constitution," Jordan Sekulow, an attorney with the American Center for Law and Justice, said.

Kenya's last national election erupted in deadly violence that left more than a 1,000 people dead. Supporters and opponents of the constitution have urged peace after the vote. To increase transparency, votes will be tallied on live television.

There's only one question on the ballot in Kenya: whether or not to replace the country's old constitution with a new one.

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CBN News
Mark Martin

Mark Martin

CBN News Reporter

Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.