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The Government
and the Political System

Kenya gained internal self-rule from the British colonial rule on 1st June 1963 when the country was allowed to form its first internal self-government with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as the first President. On 12th December, 1963, Kenya attained full independence when Britain’s Union Jack was replaced by the Kenyan black, red and green flag. Exactly one year later, Kenya became a Republic on 12th December 1964. It is in this regard that Kenyans turn out in large numbers every 1st of June and 12th of December to celebrate Madaraka Day and Jamhuri Day respectively in commemoration of the hard-won freedom that came with such fresh air of a free people in control of their own destiny.

The Republic of Kenya is a unitary State divided into 47 counties. The country is run by the National Government and 47 county governments. The two levels of government work in close consultation as espoused in article 6 subsection 2 of the Constitution of Kenya which states that “The governments at the national and county levels are distinct and inter-dependent and shall conduct their mutual relations on the basis of consultation and cooperation”. Further, and for smooth running and coordination between the governments, the Constitution in the fourth schedule clearly outlines National and County government functions.

Kenya’s political governance has evolved overtime with a mix of one party and multi-party system. By and large, Kenya has essentially been a multi-party democracy since independence. Kenya had elements of a multi-party state until 1969, when the government first banned active multi-party politics making Kenya a de facto one-party state. In 1982, section 2a was introduced in the constitution to make Kenya a de jure one-party system. This lasted until 1992 when section 2a was repealed to allow for multi-party politics. Since then, the country is run on a multi-party political system whose hallmark is parliamentary democracy.

The Parliament of Kenya is a bicameral house consisting of the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly has a total of 349 members plus the Speaker who is an ex officio member. Article 95 of the Constitution establishes that the National Assembly shall consist of the following:- two hundred and ninety (290) members, each elected by the registered voters of single member constituencies; forty-seven (47) women, each elected by the registered voters of the counties, each county constituting a single member constituency; twelve (12) members nominated by parliamentary political parties according to their proportion of members of the National Assembly in accordance with Article 90, to represent special interests including the youth, persons with disabilities and workers; and the Speaker, who is an ex officio member.

The Senate consists of 67 members plus the Speaker, who is an ex-officio member. Article 98 of the Constitution establishes that the Senate shall consist of the following:- Forty-seven (47) members each elected by the registered voters of the counties, each county constituting a single member constituency; Sixteen (16) women members who shall be nominated by political parties according to their proportion of members of the Senate elected under clause (a) in accordance with Article 90; Two members (2), being one man and one woman, representing the youth; Two (2) members, being one man and one woman, representing persons with disabilities; and The Speaker, who shall be an ex officio member.

The members of the National Assembly are referred to as Members of Parliament (MP) while the members of the Senate are referred to as Senators. Both MPs and Senators serve a five-year term.
The President of the Republic of Kenya, together with the Deputy-President and the Cabinet Secretaries comprise the executive. The President shall nominate and, with the approval of the National Assembly, appoint Cabinet Secretaries. A Cabinet Secretary shall not be a Member of Parliament. The President is elected directly for a 5-year term. In order to win, a candidate must garner 50% plus 1 votes and 25% in half of 47 counties.

Parliamentary politics in Kenya is open, free, fair and highly competitive field. Kenya has indeed held all its general elections - presidential, parliamentary, and local authorities every 5 years as required by the Constitution, without fail since the country attained independence in 1963.

The first election in Kenya was held in May 1963 in which Kenya African National Union (KANU) won the majority and picked Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as its leader, subsequently becoming Kenya’s first President. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta served as Kenya’s founding father and first President of Kenya until October 1978 when Daniel Arap Moi took over as the second President after Mzee Jomo Kenyatta passed on. President Daniel Arap Moi handed over power in December 2002 to President Mwai Kibaki who was elected as the third President.

On March 4, 2013, Kenya held its first general election, under the new constitution promulgated in August, 2010 and Honourable Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was elected as the fourth President of the Republic of Kenya with Honourable William Samoei Ruto as His Deputy. Both President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and Deputy President, William Samoei Ruto were re-elected for the second time under the new constitution on 26th October 2017 and the two will remain in office until the next General election expected to be held in August 2022.