Kenya - Government

The Constitution of The Republic of Kenya
Collective Responsibility
The President
2002 Election information

The Kenyan Constitution makes provisions for citizenship, the protection of fundamental rights and freedom of the individual, the President, the Cabinet and the Parliament, the Judiciary and Courts, the Judicial and Public Service Commission and the safeguarding of Trust Land.

Kenya's constitution was introduced at independence on 12 December 1963. It has been amended several times.

The Republic of Kenya was a de facto one-party state between 1969 and June 1982, when it became a de jure one-party state, and reverted to a multi-party state in November 1991. Governed by a united central government, Kenya's central legislative authority is the National Assembly, consisting of a single house.

The maximum life of the National Assembly is five years from its first meeting at any time and the National Assembly may force its own dissolution by a vote of 'no confidence', whereupon Presidential and Assembly elections have to be held within 90 days.

Executive power is in the hands of the President, Vice-President and Cabinet. Both the Vice-President and the Cabinet are appointed by the President, who must be a member of the Assembly and at least 35 years of age. If a President dies, or a vacancy otherwise occurs during a President' s period of office, the Vice-President becomes interim President for upto 90 days while a successor is elected.

The Constitution can be amended by the affirmative vote on Second and Third Reading of 65% of the membership of the National Assembly (excluding the Speaker and Attorney-General).

Under the Constitution, individual rights and liberties are protected, including freedom of expression and assembly, privacy of the home, the right not to be detained without cause, and the right of compensation for the compulsory purchase of property.

The Parliament

Consists of a single chamber, commonly known as the National Assembly with elected 210 members and 12 nominated by the President to represent various social and economic interests and two ex-official members. The two ex-officials are the Speaker elected by the National Assembly and the Attorney General who is usually a civil servant appointed by the President. An MP must be a Kenya citizen above 18 years of age and must be registered as a voter.

Collective Responsibility

The executive and legislative powers are divided so as to promote three main principles; namely, a strong national leadership which must exist and be collectively responsible to Parliament, and that Parliament must be supreme.

The President and his Cabinet govern with the support of the majority in Parliament. The Parliament remains supreme as the only law making body in Kenya and as such exercises control of public finances.


Kenya has 8 provinces (including Nairobi) For Kenyans to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives and obtain their share of their country's national budget, the government has decentralised the focus for development by designating administrative districts as the focal points for rural development.


The Constitution stipulates that Parliament must be dissolved every five years but may be dissolved sooner by the President. Since independence, elections to the National Assembly have been held on 6 Dec 1969, 4 Oct 1974, 8 Nov 1979, 27 Sept 1983. They were to be held in 1984 but Parliament was dissolved in 1983 and so elections held in Sept 1983, 21 April 1988 and 29 Dec 1992.

Candidates for National elections, unless nominated unopposed, are selected at the party preliminary elections. After this all those selected face the general electorate at a general election held throughout the country on a date determined by the Supervisor of Elections.

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