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Political History & System

Political History

Kenya's history dates to the Stone Age.  Kenya has one of the world´s largest and most complete records of early man’s development.  The country has a rich archeological history and pre historic sites are widespread in the country.

Indigenous African communities were the first to settle in Kenya, migrating from various corners of the African continent. However modern day travelers to Kenya follow the tradition of earlier travelers dating thousands of years ago. The Phoenicians, Romans, Chinese, the Ancient Greeks were familiar with Kenyan coast having traveled there by Sea. Islamic immigrants started settling at the coast during the 8th Century. The Portuguese followed and are among the first known European settlers along the coast. Up to the 19th Century, very little was known of the Kenyan hinterland until the arrival of British colonizers.

The colonization process was met with resistance which was countered with excessive force. Hence most of Kenya's modern history is marked by rebellions against British colonial rule, with the first one being in 1890. The struggle for independence culminated in the Mau Mau uprising and labor movement protests. This led to the declaration of emergency in 1952 and the arrest of several leaders, including Jomo Kenyatta, who was later to become Kenya's first President. Jomo Kenyatta was released from detention in 1961.

In 1955, a number of political parties were formed all over the country after the colonial Government yielded to demands for their formation. Elections were held in March 1957, after which racial barriers in the Government began to be lifted. By 1960, the Legislative Council (LEGCO) had an African majority. In 1960, Kenya African National Union (KANU), which advocated for a unitary government was formed. In 1961, Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) which advocated a quasi-federal government (Majimbo) was formed.

In 1960, British Prime Minister Sir Harold Macmillan, had made the World famous "Wind of Change" declaration in which he acknowledged the inevitability of granting independence to all colonized people. Following this, the new Secretary of Colonies, Mr. Ian McLeod, convened the historical Lancaster House constitutional conference in London that was the first constitutional meeting to map out the future of Kenya.

In February 1962, the second Lancaster House Constitutional Conference was held and chaired by Secretary of State for Colonies, Reginald Maulding. The Conference created the Upper House or Senate to safeguard white settler interests and modalities for granting of independence. The Lower House represented the people's voices.

The first full franchise General Elections were held in May 1963 and KANU led by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta emerged the winner.   On June 1, 1963 (Madaraka day) KENYA was granted internal self-government.   On December 12, 1963, Kenya attained independence (Uhuru) with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as the first Prime Minister.  On December 12, 1964, (Jamuhuri Day) Kenya became a Republic with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as the first President.

On April 14, 1966 Vice-President, Hon Oginga Odinga, resigned and formed the Kenya People's Union reintroducing the multiparty status. Joseph Anthony Murumbi, then Minister for Foreign Affairs succeeded Hon Odinga as Vice-President on May 13, 1966.

At the end of 1966, the Upper House, or the Senate, and the Lower House or the House of Representatives, were amalgamated to form the National Assembly.  Mr Murumbi resigned as Vice-President and Hon Daniel arap Moi was appointed to the post on January 3, 1967.eneral elections were held on November 11, 1974 upon the dissolution of the second parliament on September 8, 1974.

President Jomo Kenyatta died on 22nd August 1978, and was succeeded as President by Daniel Toroitich arap Moi.  Kenya became a one party state by law in June 1982 during the fourth parliament, which was dissolved, on July 22, 1983. KANU then became the only legal political party.

General elections were held 1983, 1988, and 1992.  These elections held in December 1992 ushered in multipartism after the repeal of section 2(a) of the Constitution in 1991.   In these elections, members of parliament were elected from the following political parties: KANU, the opposition Ford-Kenya, Democratic Party of Kenya, Kenya Social Congress, Kenya National Congress and the Party of Independent Candidates of Kenya.

The elections for the Eighth Parliament were held on December 29, 1997 and out of the 210 elected Members of Parliament and 12 nominated members, there was a margin of four seats between KANU and the combined opposition.

President Moi left office on 30th December 2002 after having been in office for 24 years. In 1992, the Constitution was changed to limit the presidential term to a maximum of two five years.  President Mwai Kibaki took oath of office on the same day after his Party the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) won the 2002 elections.  The next elections were be held  in  December, 2007.


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