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Kenya got independence from Britain in 1963. Kenya is in the fourth Presidency since independence in 1963. The need to change the Kenya constitution to be in aline with current global trends bore fruit on August 4, 2010. Finally, Kenya ended a 20 year search for a replacement of the Lancaster constitution that was negotiated between the country’s nationalists and colonialists.
With the new constitution the Kenya government structure will change fundamentally. Kenya will adopt a fully presidential system of government, with county government, county assemblies, governors and senators. The Executive and the Legislature will be delinked, unlike in the past where Cabinet ministers in Kenya were drawn from Parliament.
Kenya Government structure
In Kenya, the powers of government are traditionally divided into three main organs i.e the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The separation of powers here makes the judiciary more independent however, the legislature, which makes the laws, contains members of the executive (President and the Cabinet Ministers) who are responsible for carrying out the laws.
This is not unusual since the Ministers who are elected members of parliament, are responsible both individually and collectively to the legislature for the administration of their Ministries.
Kenya Government: The Executive
The Executive power is held by the President who is elected by direct popular vote for 5 years. The President is usually assisted by an appointed Vice-President and a Cabinet.
Kenya Government: The Legislature – Parliament, National Assembly
In Kenya, Legislative power is vested in the unicameral National Assembly with 224 members (210 elected by universal adult suffrage, 12 nominated, the Attorney General, and the House Speaker as ex-officio members). They serve a term of 5 years, subject to dissolution of parliament.
Kenya has a multi-party political system with over 40 registered political parties. Kenya became a one party state in 1982 through an amendment of the constitution. However, in 1992 Section 2A of the constitution was repealed to pave way for the re-introduction of multi-party politics in the country.
Kenya Government: The Judiciary
The High Court of Kenya: This Court has unlimited criminal and civil jurisdiction at first instance, and sits as a Court of appeal from subordinate courts in both criminal and civil cases. The high Court is also a Court of admiralty.
Resident Magistrate’s Courts: These have countrywide jurisdiction with powers on punishment by imprisonment or by fine. If presided over by a Chief Magistrate or Senior Resident Magistrate, the Court is empowered to pass any sentence authorized by Law. For certain offenses, a Resident Magistrate may pass minimum sentences authorized by law.
District Magistrate Courts: These are Courts of First, Second and Third Class. They have jurisdiction within the Districts and powers of punishment by imprisonment or by fines.
Kadhi’s Courts have jurisdiction within districts, to determine questions of Islamic Law.