Kenya Institutional reforms Updates

After the December 2007 post-election violence where more than one thousand people lost their life, an agreement was made amongst the feuding political parties to revise Kenya’s constitution, specifically to reduce the authoritarian powers of the president, and on August 4, 2010, a strong majority of Kenyans rallied behind a newly proposed constitution, designed to do just that. Over 67 percent of the voting population approved the new constitution, whose implementation is expected to produce a fairer system of governance and finally establish and protect multi-party democracy in Kenya.    The IIJD has continued to monitor the events in Kenya and this constitutes an update on the situation.  This is important as it could help guide the transition currently going on in Tunisia and Egypt.

In order to effectively pursuit the reform process, the Kenyan government created the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) in January 2011.  The CIC is responsible for advocating for and tracking the passage of constitutional legislation in Parliament.  Many bills have yet to be passed, but nearly all have been drafted and introduced into Parliament.  The CIC releases quarterly reports tracking the progress of legislation.  Additionally, the CIC website is kept up to date on current events concerning implementation of the Constitution.  The website also features a proposed timeline for enactment.  However, this timeline ends August 31, 2011 and nearly none of the goals have been accomplished. 

In late March 2011, President Mibaki introduced several bills required under the new Constitution in Parliament.  These bills are:

  • The Independent Commissions Bill
  • The Commission on Revenue Allocation Bill
  • The Salaries and Remuneration Commission Bill
  • The Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission Bill
  • The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill
  • The Public Service Commission Bill
  • The National Land Commission Bill
  • The Commission on Administrative Justice Bill
  • The National Police Service Commission Bill
  • The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Bill

Of the ten Bills introduced by President Mibaki that day, only one (the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission), has been enacted.  Many of these bills are still in the process of being drafted.  A draft of the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission Bill has been published, but has not yet been voted on in the National Assembly.  An existing agency, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, argues that a second human rights agency in unnecessary in Kenya.  This issue will likely present itself when the draft Bill comes up for debate in Parliament. 

The National Land Commission Bill would administer the National Land Commission (NLC) originally established in Article 67 of the Constitution.  The NLC will not be fully operational until the Bill is passed.  Public debates over the vetting and authority of officials have been a major cause of the delay in passing the Bill.  The Ministry of Land, a separate agency from the NLC, bowed to public pressure to prolong public discussions of the draft bill.  Additionally, Kenyan land surveyors object to the bill.  They fear the division of responsibility between the Ministry of Land and the new NLC is unclear, and will create additional problems.  Nevertheless, the Minister of Land has pledged that the National Land Commission Bill will be passed by February 2012.

A draft of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Bill was introduced into Parliament in late July 2011.  The bill will likely be tabled for discussion during the coming weeks, and be voted on shortly thereafter.  The draft bill allows Kenyans living abroad to maintain dual citizenship.  Additionally, those holding dual citizenship are able to vote in Kenyan national elections, as well as run for electoral office, provided they meet residency requirements.