The Citizen Handbook

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

The History of Constitutional Reform in Kenya

1964 – 1997: Constitutional Amendments

The full integrity of the 1963 Independence Constitution was short-lived.In 1964,our country’s first native Kenyan president, Jomo Kenyatta, came to power. The 1964 Constitution established Kenya as a republic and created the presidential office. Additionally, the Constitution abolished regional governments and the Senate and preserved the provincial structure.
 Several amendments to the Independence Constitution occurred between 1964 and 1997. A summary of the major amendments and their effects are below:
 ·         Introduction of the Republic– the status of the country changed into a Republic with the President as the head of state and of the government;
 ·         Abolishment of majimbo – the ethno-regional form of devolved governance known as majimbo was abolished and political power was re-centralised into the national government;
 ·         Amendment process changed – the process of amending the constitution was changed, including removing the requirement of two-thirds majority votes for certain amendments;
 ·         Unicameral legislature established – the bi-cameral (two-chamber) legislature comprised of the House of Representatives and Senate were merged into a unicameral (one-chamber) legislature known as the National Assembly;
 ·         Removal of office for MPs – members of Parliament had to vacate their seats if they left the political party they were elected to Parliament under or if they miss a number of sittings of Parliament;
 ·         Removal of security of tenure - the security of tenure for judges, Attorney General, Controller and Auditor General was removed (the security of tenure for these office was returned through later amendments);
 ·         One-party structure –a one-party state structure was established (a later amendment reintroduced provisions for a multiparty democracy);
 ·         Electoral commission membership – the number of members of the Electoral Commission was increased to accommodate opposition parties’ nominees to the Commission;
 ·         Sexual discrimination abolished – sex-based discrimination was abolished providing equal suffrage and rights among the sexes; and
 ·         Presidential term-limits – the President’s time in office was limited to two five-year terms.

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