The Citizen Handbook


The Constitution of Kenya, 2010: The People’s Power


The History of Constitutional Reform in Kenya

1963: The Independence Constitution:Lancaster House Template

Lancaster House Template

When our country gained independence from Britain in 1963, the constitution followed Britain’s Lancaster House template.Known as the Independence Constitution, it reflected the compromises made at the three constitutional conferences held at Lancaster House. The main features included a legislature with two houses, ethno-regional devolution of power through a system known as majimbo, independent judiciary, and a parliamentary system of government.

Westminster Model

Our nation’s first constitution provided a continuation of direct rule – Queen Elizabeth II was the Commander-in-Chief and she exercised her control over the country through a Governor-General. Known as the Westminster Model, this model of government centralized power at the national level through a strong head of state and a parliament. While the Westminster Model is a democratic form of government, its centralised system of governance kept the decision-making process far from the reach of the common mwananchi.

Introduction of the Provinces

The 1963 Constitution introduced a government structure consisting of eight provinces: (1) Coast province, (2) North Eastern province, (3) Eastern province, (4) Central province, (5) Western province, (6) Nyanza province, (7) Nairobi province, and (8) Rift Valley province. This structure remained in place throughout the evolution of the country’s constitution in the post-Independence era. The 2010 Constitution, however, abolishes the provincial governance structure and establishes counties in their place.

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