|The Republic of Kenya is a unitary State. Kenya won its independence from British colonial rule on 12 December 1963. The Country has a multi-party political system whose hallmark is parliamentary democracy. The core of the system is a National Assembly, or Parliament. This is a unicameral House consisting of 210 directly elected members (Member of Parliament - MP), and 12 members nominated proportionally by political parties represented in Parliament. In addition to these, there are two ex-officio members - the Speaker and the Attorney-General. The MPs serve a 5-year mandate in Parliament.
The President of the Republic, together with the Vice-President and the Cabinet of Ministers comprises the executive. The President appoints both the Vice-President and the Cabinet. The President is elected directly for a 5-year term. In order to win, a candidate must get at least 25% of the votes cast in at least 5 of the country's 8 provinces.
Since independence in 1963, the National Assembly has progressively made amendments to the Constitution. These changes have been aimed at strengthening the democratic system by guaranteeing the freedom of expression and free and fair elections, amongst other things. In September 1997 for instance, the Assembly passed legislation which prohibited detention without trial. The Assembly also ensured that during general elections, all political parties get equal access to the media. Furthermore, all parties, including those in the opposition have the right to nominate members for the 12 seats reserved for nominated MPs. A party may select nominated MPs in proportion to the actual number of National Assembly seats it holds.
All the above measures are engraved in the Constitution. As a result of this, parliamentary politics in Kenya is an open, free, fair and highly competitive field. Kenya has indeed held all its general elections - presidential, parliamentary, and local authorities periodically as required by the Constitution, without fail since the country attained independence in 1963.
The last general elections were held on 27 December 2002, These were won by the National Rainbow Coalition, known by its initials - NARC (which is a coalition of 14 political parties, the major of which are Democratic Party (DP), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Forum for the Restoration of Democracy - Kenya (FORD Kenya), and National Party of Kenya (NPC). It is, therefore, the ruling party. There are currently seven (7) parties represented in the National Assembly.
These are: -
Currently, there are sixteen (16) women Members of Parliament, nine (9) of them elected and the seven (7) nominated from a cross-section of the parties presented in Parliament.
The President of Kenya is now His Excellency Mwai Kibaki who was sworn in on 30th December 2002, taking over in a peaceful and unprecedented transition in Kenyan history from Daniel T. Arap Moi who had been Kenya's President since 1978.
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