Presidential Debates! But Equally Retain Personalized Politics

“So as 2013 presidential debates begin, I will not divorce personalities from politics. Those who are comfortable with their families owning a whole Nyanza while Kenyans are IDP(s), those whose families converted public molasses plants into private owned enterprises; those accused of crimes against humanity, those who were in the YK92 when the rest of the republic was struggling for change will have to be seen as such.”

The television history of Kenya will certainly register an epic moment on 26th November when Presidential contestants face it off in a debate. I rightly guess the collective audience watch will hit an all time high. While this is certainly a great step towards realizing an electioneering contest based on reason, and it should be pursued to its ultimate maturity, as a country we have to equally place an eye on the person.

I believe we have to retain personalized politics just as much as we pursue ideology based politics. Politics, unlike any other form of calling is dependent more on the person “politician’, more than what they say or what they have been trained. I will stretch the basis of my assertion to the most basic of reasons. When persuading voters, the aspirant will traditionally offer their visions. These visions will rarely be comprehensive.

While we may want to create an illusion of idealism, that we should elect a leader who gives the best deal, and that way it ought to be, the imperfections of democracy create an altogether a different reality. The political reality is that it will be more about “how do you present it,” than “what do you present. And this is not entirely wrong. A political leader perhaps carries a significance that exceeds ability to legislate or formulate good policies. The nobility of politics lies in the fact the people deposit a trust in their leader.

If this was not so, clearly Martin Oduor can perhaps handle the economy of Nyanza better than Odinga, Kareithi Murimi understands structural impediments to investment than Uhuru Kenyatta yet they will never assume the roles these two have. From a superficial look, we could condemn the respective electorates of respecting undeserved political deities; but beyond this condemnation, we should never fail to understand that it is a reality; and realities are not vanquished by well designed academic arguments. Politics has a rather unquantifiable nobility in the fact of “being a deposit of trust”.

Well you could counter argue and say in that case CEO’s of financial institution are the most trusted as people trust them with their monies. The difference between the trust vested to a political leader and in any other leader is will. Men do not give away what they value without reasonable considerations. Yet the most learned will vote the less knowledgeable and trust them to guide their destinies. An extremely learned CEO will have the standards of performance prescribed for them in manner of performance contracts, yet the electorates will applaud politicians who they agree never perform to the extent of their promises. Am I excusing incompetence by creating non existent nobility? Certainly not, but if you disagree with the assertions, I would be justified to say you are running away from the reality. It is this realization; that my vote as holder of a bachelor’s degree and the vote of my uneducated grand ma carry the same weight that informs my stand that we should not divorce personalities from politics.

Indeed, the truest restriction a society can ever have is that which ensures that those who offer themselves for political offices are worth the trust that will be vested in them. This I would guess is the rationale for restriction placed on persons with criminal chances when seeking elections. Basically, leadership and the concept of a “good citizen” are inseparable. Good in the sense of a legal or otherwise vindication that the character of the person seeking the office is worth the trust. Legal vindications will always be realized through promulgated regulations and institutionalized requirements, but the most crucial of the vetting is the otherwise aspects; the not-coded restrictions that a society places on who should be a political leader.

Herein lies the electorates’ right to prod the candidate’s past and present commitments, their unsaid beliefs, speculations on their past, their convictions. This is not an exercise that can be effectively concluded by watching a candidate on a debate platform. On the platform, they may mask their totality by well planned messages, beyond the allure of eloquence and grasps of statistics, the electorate should always be entitled to an answer of this question; “who is the guy that wants my vote.” Because debaters will naturally agree on the rules of engagement, what should be a chance for the electorate to know who their candidates is is in reality a stage managed contest.

A politician is not going to fit into an organizational culture so that we should get comfortable by the way he expresses himself before a panel of interviewers. His excesses may be checked by systems but that checking may leave voids that disrupt a society to huge extends. A politician’s therefore ambition must be placed in the context of his entire life. Do I expect anyone to live blamelessly? No. But I expect those who aspire to have me deposit my trust in them to be courageous and own up to their dispositions. I expect them to be courageous and admit their mistakes, perhaps strong enough and explain them. What is excusable will always be excused.

I guess, I will be confident to deposit my trust in a man who regrets what they did than in a man who is blameless.

So as 2013 presidential debates begin, I will not divorce personalities from politics. Those who are comfortable with their families owning a whole Nyanza while Kenyans are IDP(s), those who converted public molasses plants into private owned enterprises; those accused of crimes against humanity, those who were in the YK92 when the rest of the republic was struggling for change will have to be seen as such.

Those who excuse post election violence in the guise of self defense, those who stayed as foreign affairs ministers for close to a decade when the rest of the country carried a heavy burden, those who are being accused of not completing school, those accused of being statehouse projects, those who have spend five years in parliament gaining experience as opposed to working should be seen as such. I will watch the debate, but I will vote for someone who deserves my trust.

And by the way, I am young and ambitious and one day, I know I will be vetted. And then I may hope that this never applies to me, it does not mean it should not apply to me.

Adams Oloo: Elections, Representations and the New Constitution

Elections,
Representations and
the New Constitution
Constitution Working Paper Series No. 7
Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
Elections, Representations
and the New Constitution
Adams Oloo
Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Constitution Working Paper No. 7
Published by:
Society for International Development (SID)
Regional Office for East & Southern Africa
Britak Centre, First Floor
Ragati/Mara Road
P.O. Box 2404-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. +254 20 273 7991
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Email: info@sun.co.ke
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Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
Abstract
Elections are a very important aspect of democracy
any constitution should ensure that the electoral
system is not only representative, but also inclusive.
The old constitution had a number of factors that
inhibited fair and inclusive representation. First,
its electoral system, the First Past the Post System,
facilitated candidates with minority votes being
declared winners. Second, it did not say how
many constituencies there must be in the National
Assembly leading to gerrymandering by ruling
parties. Third, the old constitution did not have
reserved seats for special groups such as women,
the disabled and minorities. The new constitution
has addressed some of these problems; however,
we argue in this paper that more legislation on
the electoral system is needed, if Kenya’s electoral
system is to be truly representative and inclusive.
These include the adoption of a mixed electoral
system and legislation on descriptive representation
to ensure that all minorities have a voice in the
representative bodies.
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Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
Adams Oloo holds a PhD in Political Science
from the University of Delaware, USA.
He is currently a senior lecturer and the
chairperson of the department of Political
Science and Public Administration at the
University of Nairobi. He has published
articles on democratization, legislative and
electoral politics, civil society politics, and
devolution.
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Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
In 2010, on the cusp of Kenya’s new constitutional
dispensation, the Society for International
Development (SID) embarked on a project
called ‘Thinking, Talking and Informing Kenya’s
Democratic Change Framework’. Broadly stated,
the objective of the project was both historical and
contemporary: that is, to reflect on Kenyans struggles
for a democratic order through a book project, and
to examine the significance of a new constitutional
order and its legal and policy imperatives, through a
Working Paper Series.
Consequently, SID commissioned research on some
of the chapters or aspects of the new constitution that
require further policy and legislative intervention,
culminating in ten Working Papers. These papers,
mostly by Kenyan academics, are intended to help
shape public discussions on the constitution and to
build a stock of scholarly work on this subject.
These papers seek to contextualize some of the key
changes brought about by the new constitutional
order, if only to underscore the significance of the
promulgation of the new constitution on August
27, 2010. The papers also seek to explore some
policy, legislative and institutional reforms that may
be necessary for Kenya’s transition to a democratic
order.
The Working Papers explore the extent to which
the new constitution deconstructs the Kenyan postcolonial
state: how it re-calibrates the balance of
power amongst branches of government and reforms
government’s bureaucracy; redraws the nature of
state-individual relations, state-economy relations,
and state-society relations; and deconstructs the
use of coercive arms of the government. Lastly,
the papers examine some of the limitations
of the new constitution and the challenges of
constitutionalism.
The Sid Constitution Working Paper Series
In the first set of papers, Dr Joshua Kivuva, Prof.
Ben Sihanya and Dr. Obuya Bagaka, separately
examines how the new constitution has re-ordered
nature of Kenya’s post-colonial state, especially
how it has deconstructed the logic of state power
and rule, deconstructed the ‘Imperial Presidency’,
and how it may re-constitute the notorious arm of
post-independent Kenya’s authoritarian rule: the
provincial administration.
The next set of papers in this series, by Dr. Othieno
Nyanjom and Mr. Njeru Kirira, separately looks
at the administrative and fiscal consequences of
Kenya’s shift from a unitary-state to a quasi-federal
state system. Whereas Dr. Nyanjom examines
the anticipated administrative and development
planning imperatives of devolving power; Mr. Kirira
examines the anticipated revenue and expenditure
concerns, which may arise in a state with twotier
levels of government. Both discussions take
place within the context of a presidential system of
government that the new constitution embraces.
The paper by Dr. Musambayi Katumanga examines
the logic of security service provision in post-colonial
Kenya. Dr. Katumanga argues that Kenya needs to
shift the logic of security from regime-centred to
citizen-centred security service provision. However,
despite several attempts in the recent past, there are
still several challenges and limitations which Kenya
must redress. The new constitution offers some room
for instituting a citizen-centric security reforms.
The paper by Prof. Paul Syagga examines the vexed
question of public land and historical land injustices.
It explores what public land is, its significance and
how to redress the contention around its ownership
or use. Similarly, the paper examines what constitutes
historical land injustices and how to redress these
injustices, drawing lessons from the experiences of
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Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
other states in Africa that have attempted to redress
similar historical land and justice questions.
The papers by Dr. Adams Oloo, Mr. Kipkemoi arap
Kirui and Mr. Kipchumba Murkomen, separately
examines how the new constitution has reconfigured
representation and legislative processes. Whereas
Dr. Oloo examines the nature of the Kenya’s
electoral systems, new provisions on representations
and its limitations; arap Kirui and Murkomen look at
the re-emergence of a bicameral house system and
the challenges of legislation and superintending the
executive.
If the other nine papers examine the structural
changes wrought by the new constitution; the tenth
paper, by Mr. Steve Ouma, examines the challenges
and limitations of liberal constitutional order,
especially the tensions between civic citizenship
and cultural citizenship from an individual stand
point. Perhaps Mr Ouma’s paper underscores the
possibility of a self-defined identity, the dangers of
re-creating ethno-political identities based on old
colonial border of the Native Reserves – the current
47 counties and the challenges of redressing social
exclusion and the contemporary legacies of Kenya’s
ethno-centric politics.
The interpretation of the constitution is contested;
so will be its implementation. We hope that this
Working Paper Series will illuminate and inform
the public and academic discussions on Kenya’s
new social contract in a manner that secures the
aspiration of the Kenyan people.
SID would like to sincerely thank all those who
have made the publication of these papers possible,
especially those who participated in the research
conceptualization meeting and peer-reviewed the
papers such as: Dr. Godwin Murunga, Prof. Korwa
Adar, Ms. Wanjiru Gikonyo, Dr. Joshua Kivuva, Dr.
Richard Bosire, Dr. Tom Odhiambo, Ms. Miriam
Omolo and Dr. Mutuma Ruteere, for their invaluable
input.
Lastly, we would like to acknowledge the invaluable
support of the SID staff: Hulda Ouma, Irene Omari,
Gladys Kirungi, Jackson Kitololo, Aidan Eyakuze,
Edgar Masatu, Stefano Prato, and Arthur Muliro;
as well as Board members Sam Mwale and Rasna
Warah. Similarly, we would like to thank the Swedish
International Development Cooperation Agency
(Sida) for their financial support. Our gratitude also
goes to the Swedish Ambassador to Kenya H. E. Ms.
Ann Dismorr; and Ms. Annika Jayawardena and
Ms. Josephine Mwangi of Sida for supporting this
project.
Working Papers Series Coordinators
Jacob Akech
Duncan Okello
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Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
Contents
Acronyms…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. viii
1.0 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………………….1
2.0 Electoral Systems and Divided Societies: Plurality/Majority Systems…………………………..2
2.1 Proportional Representation System………………………………………………………………2
2.2 Mixed electoral systems………………………………………………………………………………3
2.3 Multi-party elections in Kenya in the 1990s…………………………………………………….4
2.4 The 2010 Constitution and representation………………………………………………………5
2.5 Elections and representation…………………………………………………………………………5
2.6 The National Assembly……………………………………………………………………………….5
2.7 The Senate………………………………………………………………………………………………..6
2.8 County assemblies……………………………………………………………………………………..6
2.9 Party lists…………………………………………………………………………………………………..6
3.0 Implications of the Provisions of the Constitution (2010) on the Equity of Voice………….6
3.1 Women and representation………………………………………………………………………….6
3.2 Ethnic minorities and representation………………………………………………………………7
4.0 The Challenges of Redressing Mal-Apportioned Votes and Zero-Sum Electoral Outcomes……8
5.0 Recommendations……………………………………………………………………………………………….8
5.1 The case for a mixed electoral system for Kenya………………………………………………8
5.2 The case for ‘descriptive’ representation……………………………………………………….10
6.0 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………………………….11
References…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….13
SID Constitution Working Papers Series…………………………………………………………………….14
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Acronyms
CJPC Catholic Justice and Peace Commission
FORD-People Forum for the Restoration of Democracy- People
FPTP First Past The Post
GoK Government of Kenya
IDEA International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
IED Institute for Education in Democracy
IPPG Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group
IREC Independent Review Commission
IREC Independent Review Electrol Commission
KANU Kenya African National Union
LPR List Proportional Representation (LPR)
MMP Mixed Member Proportional
NARC National Alliance Rainbow Coalition
NCCK National Council of Churches of Kenya
ODM Orange Democratic Movement
ODM-Kenya Orange Democratic Movement Kenya
PNU Party for National Unity
PR Proportional Representation
SID Society for International Development
SIDA Swedish International Development Agency
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1.0 Introduction
At the most basic level, electoral systems translate
the votes cast in a general election into seats
won by parties and candidates. The choice of
an electoral system is therefore one of the most
important institutional decisions for any democracy.
Conversely, the electoral system provides an avenue
for representation. Representation of citizens
could fall into four categories. First, geographical
representation implies that each region be it a
town or a city, a province or an electoral district,
has a member of the legislature whom it chooses
and who is ultimately accountable to a particular
geographical area. Second, the ideological divisions
within society may be reflected in the legislature
either through representatives from political parties
or independent representatives or a combination of
both.
Third, a legislature may be representative of the partypolitical
situation that exists within the country even
if political parties do not have an ideological base.
Fourth, the concept of ‘descriptive representation’
considers that the legislature should be to some
degree a ‘mirror of the nation’ which should look,
feel, think and act in a way which reflects the
people as a whole. In other words, an adequately
representative legislature, would include both men
and women, the young and the old, the wealthy and
the poor and reflect the different religious affiliations,
linguistic communities and ethnic groups within a
society.
There are a number of shortcomings that have
characterized Kenya’s electoral system since
independence. First, is the lack of equity of voice
in the legislature and local authorities. This has
meant that minorities in Kenya have either had very
weak representation in the representative bodies or
none at all. Such minority groups include women,
the disabled, racial groups such as Asians, Arabs
and Europeans and ethnic minorities such as the
Sengwer, the Nubian, the Ogiek, the El Molo, the
Sakweri and the Illchamus (Oloo, 2007).
Second, is the mal-apportionment of votes. For
instance in 2007, Embakasi in Nairobi had 351 per
cent while Lamu East had only 18 per cent of the
average registered voters, yet each constituency is
represented by one member of parliament. Third,
is the zero-sum character of electoral politics. For
instance, in the 2007 elections in Kirinyaga Central
Daniel Karaba won by only two votes over Kariuki
John Ngata although the latter was mistakenly
declared the winner (GoK 2008). The two, according
to data retrieved from the Form 16 A, garnered 17,
270 and 17,268 respectively (Ibid.). Several other
candidates in the same constituency garnered a total
of 19,738 votes. The import of this was that a total of
36,978 all went to waste under the winner take all
first past the post system.
These anomalies in the representation process ought
to have been addressed in the 2010 Constitution.
However, as we show in this paper, they were only
partially addressed. There are three key ingredients
that are germane to an electoral system. First is
the electoral formula used, that is, whether the
electoral system used is a plurality/majority system;
a proportional system or a mixed system. Second,
whether a voter votes for a candidate or a party, and
whether a voter makes a single choice or expresses a
series of preferences. Third is the district magnitude,
in other words, how many representatives to the
legislature does a district elect. It is in these regards
that we make recommendations on additional
legislations that are needed in Kenya’s electoral and
representation process.
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There are five varieties of plurality/majority systems
that can be identified: first past the post (FPTP);
party block vote; alternative vote; and the two-round
system (International Institute for Democracy and
Electoral Assistance (IDEA, 2005). In this section we
focus on the FPTP system due to the fact that it is
the system that Kenya used in the old constitution
(Chapter 3), and it is also the one adopted in the
new Constitution (2010: Chapter 7).
The FPTP is the simplest form of plurality/majority
system. Using single member districts and candidatecentered
voting, a voter is presented with the names
of the nominated candidates and votes by choosing
one and only one of them. The winner is the
candidate with the most votes but not necessarily an
absolute majority of the votes.
FPTP like other plurality/majority electoral
systems is defended primarily on the grounds of
simplicity and its tendency to produce winners
who are beholden to defined geographic areas.
FPTP has several advantages for divided societies.
First in severely ethnically or regionally divided
societies, the system encourages political parties
to be broad-based, encompassing many elements
of society, particularly where there are only two
major parties and many different societal groups.
Those parties can then field a diverse array of
candidates for election. Second, it provides a link
between constituents and their representatives as it
produces a legislature made up of representatives
of geographical areas.
Moreover, electoral members represent defined
areas of countries rather than just party labels.
This is important for developing countries. Third,
it allows voters to choose between people rather
than just between parties. Voters can assess the
performance of individual candidates rather than just
having to accept a list of candidates presented by a
party as can happen under some List Proportional
Representation electoral systems. Fourth, it gives
a chance for popular independent candidates to
be elected. This may be particularly important
in developing party systems where politics still
revolves more around extended ties of family, clan
or kinship and are not based on strong party political
organizations.
2.1 Proportional Representation
System
There are two major types of proportional
representation (PR). These are List Proportional
Representation (LPR) and the Single Transferable
Vote (IDEA, 2005). In this section we focus on the
LPR because the 2010 Constitution marginally
provides for it. The rationale underpinning all
proportional representation (PR) systems is the
conscious translation of a party’s share of the votes
into a proportional number of seats in the legislature.
A PR system to this end requires the use of electoral
districts with more than one member.
In many respects the strongest arguments for the LPR
system derive from its ability to avoid the anomalous
results of plurality/majority systems and to produce
a more representative legislature. For many new
democracies, particularly those that face deep
societal divisions, the inclusion of all significant
groups in the legislature can be a near-essential
condition for democratic consolidation. The LPR
system provides an avenue for ensuring that both
minorities and majorities have a stake in developing
the political system.
There are a number of advantages that accrue from
the LPR system. First, it faithfully translates votes
cast into seats won and thus avoids some of the
destabilizing and unfair results that emanate from
2.0 Electoral Systems
and Divided Societies:
Plurality/Majority
Systems
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Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
the plurality/majority system. Second, it encourages
the formation of political parties or groups of likeminded
candidates to put forward lists. This may
clarify policy, ideological or leadership differences
within society. Third, it gives rise to very few wasted
votes. When thresholds are low, almost all votes cast
in the LPR elections go towards electing a candidate
of choice. This increases the voters’ perception that
it is worth making the trip to the polling booth at
election time, as they can be more confident that
their vote will make a difference to the election
outcome, however small (IDEA, 2005).
A second category of advantages relates to divided
societies. First, the LPR facilitates minority parties’
access to representation. This fulfils the principal of
inclusion, which can be crucial to stability in divided
societies and has benefits for decision making in
established democracies. Second, it encourages
parties to campaign beyond the districts in which
they are strong or where the results are expected to
be close. The incentive under the LPR system is to
maximize the overall vote regardless of where those
votes might come from. Third, it restricts the growth
of regional fiefdoms. Because the LPR systems reward
minority parties with a minority of the seats, they are
less likely to lead to situations where a single party
holds all the seats in a given province or district.
This can be particularly important to minorities in
a province which may not have significant regional
concentrations or alternative points of access to
power (Ibid.).
2.2 Mixed electoral systems
This system combines elements of the plurality/
majority system and proportional representation
system. This system loosely and minimally existed
under the old constitution after the 1997 Inter-
Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) reforms, and to
an extent, it is provided for in the new constitution.
Under Articles 98 (b) of the 2010 Constitution, a
semblance of a PR system shall be applied in the
election of 16 women county representatives.
In addition, under Article 97 (c) of the same, 12
members will be nominated to represent special
interest groups.
The mixed electoral system can take three forms. The
first form, the Mixed Member Proportional system
(MMP), refers to a system where two types of votecounting
are mixed: plurality/majoritarian system
and proportional system. Both systems are used to
determine representation. The plurality/majoritarian
system is used to determine the allocation of legislative
seats, while the proportional representation systems
is used to compensate for the inequalities that may
arise from the use of the plurality/ majority system.
The second form, the Parallel system, refers to a
system of separate voting and vote counting, where
the allocation of legislative seats allocations is not
dependent on each other. Under this system, a voter
cast separate ballots: one vote indicating his or her
party list choice under the PR system and another
indicating his or her preferred
constituency candidate under a
plurality or majoritarian formula.
The third form refers to a system
of voting and vote counting where
the two systems are integrated.
In principle, one round of ballots
is cast for candidates on a
plurality/majority basis and then a
percentage of the legislative seats
are allocated on the basis of a PR
formula that reflects the strength
of various political parties in an
electoral contest. The advantage
of the MMP is that while it retains
the proportionality benefits of PR
systems, it also ensures that elected representatives
are linked to geographical districts. Furthermore,
MMP can create two classes of legislators — one
group primarily responsible and beholden to a
constituency and another from the national party list
without geographical ties and beholden to the party.
In translating votes into seats, the MMP system can
be as proportional an electoral system as a pure LPR
system, and therefore share its advantages
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2.3 Multi-party elections in
Kenya in the 1990s
Since 1992, Kenyans have mostly used the FPTP
electoral system. The multi-party elections were
held within a framework that has institutionalized
the inequality of votes because of gerrymandering.
The Kenyatta regime began the practice of unequal
delineation of constituencies, but the Moi regime
perfected it during the one party rule. In 1992, Moi
won the presidency with 36 per cent of the total
votes cast compared with the remainder, 64 percent,
of the combined votes for the opposition. Since the
electoral process had no threshold requirement
for the winner to attain at least 50 per cent + 1
of the vote, Moi was declared
president. In the parliamentary
poll KANU won 53 percent of
the seats with only 30 per cent of
the total votes cast, courtesy of a
constituency delimitation system
that favored the less populated
KANU supporting areas in Rift
Valley, North-Eastern and Coast
Provinces and the impact of the
FPTP system in a multi-party
election. The 1997 elections
largely followed the contours of
the 1992 elections. However, there
were some notable exceptions.
Although Moi got a slightly higher percentage of
votes in the presidential poll (40 per cent), KANU
again won 51 per cent of the parliamentary seats
with 38 per cent of the total votes cast. (IED, CJPC,
NCCK, 1998) In the December 2002 elections, the
National Alliance Rainbow Coalition (NARC) won
by a significant margin. The party’s presidential
candidate, Mwai Kibaki, won 62 per cent of the
total votes cast while Uhuru Kenyatta of KANU got
31 per cent. Simeon Nyachae of Ford-People got 6
per cent. NARC also won a big majority –though not
absolute–of parliamentary seats. The party won 125
seats out of the 210 seats. KANU won 64 seats and
Forum for the Restoration of Democracy- People
(FORD-People) 14 seats. 7 seats went to 4 smaller
parties. The disparity between electoral votes and
number of seats was minimal in this election because
KANU won seats in the heavily populated Central
province, and the Rift-Valley, especially in the
Kikuyu-dominated constituencies. It also garnered
numerous votes from the Kikuyu who reside Kiambu
and Muranga, but are registered as voters in Nairobi
(Institute for Education in Democracy (IED), 2003).
The 2007 elections were hotly contested; however
according to Independent Review Commission
(IREC) Kenyans shall never know with certainty who
won the elections. In spite of this, the disbanded and
defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya, declared
Mwai Kibaki of the Party for National Unity (PNU)
the winner on the basis that he had garnered 46
per cent of the total votes cast in the presidential
elections. Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic
Movement (ODM) was said to have come a close
second with 44 per cent and Kalonzo Musyoka
(ODM-Kenya) a distant third with 9 per cent of the
total votes cast in the presidential elections. At the
parliamentary level, ODM was said to have won 99
seats, the PNU – 43, ODM-Kenya – 16, KANU – 14,
Safina – 5, and others – 28. Although the ‘true’ results
might never be known, there is no question that
the elections between Kibaki and Raila were very
closely contested. However, as the parliamentary
results clearly show ODM was way ahead in terms
of seats won, even when PNU affiliate parties
are taken into account. In 2007, ODM therefore
inherited the gerrymandered constituencies that
had hitherto been the bedrock of KANU.
All the four multi-party elections since 1992 were
held under the FPTP system, a system that could not
effectively cater for the representation of minorities.
However, without any reference to PR as an electoral
device, the IPPG reforms adopted prior to the 1997
elections, had a semblance of a parallel PR system
because it in effect allocated ‘national seats’ to parties
on the basis of their share of directly elected seats,
rather than the proportion of total votes cast that the
PR system calls for. Loosely speaking, the successive
Kenyan elections in 1997, 2002 and 2007 were run
on a ‘mixed parallel’ basis, even though the seats
4
Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
allocated on party PR basis amounted to only 6 per
cent of the total seats in the legislature.
2.4 The new Constitution and
representation
The meaning or characteristics of ‘representation’
and specifically of ‘political representation’ has been
analyzed by many theorists such as John Locke,
James Madison, and Robert Dahl. This discussion
on the nature of politics focuses on their treatment of
the concept. The concept of political representation
has multiple, competing, and indeed conflicting
dimensions. This links to political representation
being seen as the activity of making citizens’ voices,
opinions and perspectives ‘present” in public policymaking
processes (Pitkin, 1967).
Political representation has four key components
(Odida, 2009). First, a party that is representing
another organized group, such as an elected official,
an organization, movement or state agency. Second,
a party that is represented by constituents, clients
or members of a group. Third, something that is
being represented such as interests, issues, opinions,
views, and fourth, a political context or setting
within which the activity of representation is taking
place such as legislative assembly or a negotiation.
Because of these multiple, competing and indeed
conflicting dimensions to political representation it
can mean different things to different people, often
times with incompatible expectations and standards
of accountability. The 2010 Constitution attempts
to address these contradictions by advocating for
inclusive representation.
2.5 Elections and representation
The 2010 Constitution endows the electoral system
with a number of guiding principles: first, the freedom
of citizens to exercise their political rights under
Article 38. Second is the provision that not more
than two-thirds of the members of elective public
bodies shall be of the same gender (Article 27 (8)).
Third, fair representation of persons with disabilities
has been provided for (Articles 97, 98,100,177 and
82). Fourth, universal suffrage based on aspirations
towards fair representation and equality of vote
(Article 81 (d)) and fifth, the right to free and fair
elections has been provided for (Article 81). The
2010 Constitution finally provides for the election
of representatives to four institutional bodies: the
national assembly, the senate, the county assemblies
and the presidency (Article 97, 98, 177, 138).
2.6 The National Assembly
The 2010 Constitution provides that there shall
be 290 constituencies instead of the current 210.1
Unlike the old constitution which is silent on a
threshold, the new one establishes the maximum
possible departure from the principle of the equality
of the vote. The constituencies are ideally supposed
to be equal in size in terms of population, except
for the sparsely and densely
populated areas where there can
be a variation of up to 40 per
cent.2 But even other areas which
are not densely populated can
have a variation of 30 per cent.
In short, moving towards equality
will be a gradual process.
There will also be one woman
elected from each county by
the voters of the county in the
National Assembly (article 97
(b). So at a minimum there will
be at least 47 women in the 349
member National Assembly. And
lastly there will be 12 members
nominated to represent “special interests” including
youth, persons with disability and workers (Article
97 (c)). This requirement calls for a new law for its
implementation (Article 90 (2)).
1 Article 97
2 Article 89
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2.7 The Senate
The Senate shall have a total of 67 members. First,
one member will be elected by the voters for each
of the 47 counties.3 Second, 16 women members
will be nominated from party lists, and allocated to
the parties in proportion to the number of seats they
won in the country elections for Senate members.4
These members will be additional to any women
elected directly from counties. Third, one man and
one woman will represent youth and one man and
one woman will represent persons with disability;
all of whom will be taken from party lists.
2.8 County assemblies
Each county is to be divided into wards each of
which will have one member directly elected by
the voters of the ward.5 And within the counties
there must be no more than two-thirds men or twothirds
women in the overall leadership (Article 177
(1) (b)). Just as the 2010 Constitution caters for the
representation of women in the counties it also caters
for other marginalized groups, including persons
with disabilities and the youth as shall be prescribed
by an Act of Parliament. (Article 177 (1) (c)).
2.9 Party lists
When the 2010 Constitution speaks of party lists, it
means that before any election, each party should
publish lists of candidates comprising women, youth,
and persons with disabilities.6 If, on the basis of the
results of the geographical seat election, a party is
entitled to some seats for specific minorities it must
take those members from their party list in the order
in which they were published. Therefore if they get
a seat for one woman they must take the person who
headed the list of women. A person on the list can
also stand for election at the constituency level. If
elected to a constituency, they would of course be
passed over on the list.
3 Article 98.
4 Article 90.
5 Article 177
6 Article 9.
3.1 Women and representation
The guaranteed 47 seats in the National Assembly
– one per county is similar to provisions in
Rwanda and Uganda where seats are reserved for
women. By itself, it guarantees only 47 out of 349
members (excluding the speaker) or 13.5 per cent
of the House. The position of these 47 women will
not be easy. They will have larger constituencies –
a bigger area in which to campaign – and a bigger
area to represent as constituency members. And
there may be some risk that they are not treated
as equals by their parties that might think “those
are just women’s seats”. On the positive side –
they do have to be elected by the voters at the
county level, so if they do a good job they can
gain respect.
In the senate there shall be at least 18 women out of
a total of 67 (26.7 per cent). Again this is less than
one-third, but women could win more county seats.
The 18 seats guaranteed women in the senate will be
more awkward than the 47 seats guaranteed women
in the National Assembly. The women senators
will sit in a body that has power only over matters
related to counties. They cannot force any position
on their county representatives. The senators will
be consulted only on how to cast the county vote.
However, the appropriate legislation on the senate
which should be passed within 5 years also covers
representation in the senate, and this may provide
an opportunity for enhancing women representation
at the Senate.
Perhaps, the situation in the county assemblies
will be easier for women generally. Right from
the beginning, not more than two-thirds of the
members of any county assembly shall be of the
3.0 Implications of
the Provisions of the
Constitution (2010) on
the Equity of Voice
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Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
same gender.7 But the peculiar rule about special
seats in county assemblies meant to ensure that
no more than two-thirds of the members are of the
same gender, probably means that for some time to
come women may struggle to exceed one-third of
the membership of these assemblies. Indeed there
is a risk that these provisions will delay full equality
for women, because parties know that there will be
special seats for women and therefore they will not
bother to nominate women for regular seats. On the
other hand, it will give women a chance to show
that they are capable of performing well. Hopefully,
through their contributions, women will persuade
their parties to nominate them, and maybe the
‘special seats’ will become unnecessary (unless and
until there are so many women ward members that
men have to be protected by special status seats).
3.2 Ethnic minorities and
representation
A glance at the electoral roll of candidates for the
presidential, parliamentary and civic elections
from 1992 to 2007 clearly shows that a dismal
number of minority candidates were fielded for
elections. The first hurdle for minority electoral
success has therefore got to do with the ability
of minorities to become candidates of major
parties. Political parties act as gatekeepers in the
process of choosing candidates. Therefore, one of
the necessary steps to redress the predicament of
minorities is to have parties recognize the need for
minority inclusion. Although, the 2010 Constitution
does provide for independent candidates, this
provision is unlikely to redress the plight of the
minorities. Current indications suggest that partysponsored
candidates will remain dominant for
the foreseeable future.
The type of electoral system also determines on
how best to facilitate the election of minorities.
Most minorities stand a better chance of being
elected from large multi-member districts than small
single-member districts. If a minority makes up 10
per cent of the population of a ten-member multimember
PR district they can vote together and win
one seat, but if that district is divided into ten single
member seats then the minority is unlikely to win
anything. The electoral success of minorities also
depends upon the geographically concentration
or dispersal of the minority community in a given
area.
Based on the above, it is therefore clear that the
Kenyan parliament has to legislate for the inclusion
of minorities if their voices and interests are to be
catered for by the national and county assemblies.
The Kenyan parliament can make the National
Assembly and the county assemblies open to
minorities through a revised electoral system or other
methods of choosing representatives. In terms of the
electoral system, the key variables will be: (i) whether
the system is proportional or majoritarian; (ii) the
number of members to be elected from each district;
(iii) whether there is an imposed
threshold for representation;
(iv) whether voters can choose
between candidates as well as
parties; and finally (v) whether
minority voters are clustered
together or geographically
dispersed. Minorities could also
gain representation through special
mechanisms such as reserved
seats, quotas or mandated multiethnic
‘slates’.
Parliament could also pass laws
which enable marginalized groups
to fully participate in government and politics.
Legislation can be passed requiring minorities to
be included in each party’s slate of candidates (as
is the case in Singapore) or requiring the allocation
of a certain number of seats to specific minority
groups (as is done in Lebanon).
7 Article 197(1)
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4.0 The Challenges
of Redressing Mal-
Apportioned Votes and
Zero-Sum Electoral
Outcomes
The 2010 Constitution seeks to redress the inequality
of votes. This is done through Article 89, which
establishes principles to guide the process of boundary
delimitation. For example, under clause 5 of the
article there is a requirement that each constituency
should as nearly as possible, have the same number of
inhabitants, although it permits variations of up to 40
per cent for cities and sparsely populated areas, and
30 per cent for other areas based on such factors: as
geographical features and urban centres; community
of interest, historical, economic and cultural ties; and
means of communication. Meeting these thresholds
will, however, be a major challenge. During the
voter registration that was concluded (-prior to the
Constitutional referendum of August 2010), Embakasi
and Kasarani had 292,643 and 192,987 registered
voters respectively, while Fafi and Lamu East had
9,113 and 9,181 respectively. These differences shed
some light on a looming contradiction; that densely
populated urban areas like Nairobi are likely to have
numerous constituencies while rural areas in parts
of the Coast, North Eastern and Rift Valley regions
might end up with very few constituencies which
might be very difficult to administer and represent
due to their size.
In so far as the zero-sum character of electoral politics
is concerned, the situation remains the same. The
FPTP has been retained except for the 12 members
who will represent ‘special interests’ in the National
Assembly; the 16 women members who shall be
nominated from party lists and allocated to the parties
in proportion to the number of seats each party won
in the county elections for Senate members.8 Also,
at the Senate level there will be one man and one
woman to represent the youth, and one man and
woman to represent persons with disabilities, also
to be taken from the party lists. The end result: it is
likely that under the 2010 Constitution there will be
numerous “wasted” votes in close elections.
Although Article 90 speaks of “proportional
representation” this is not entirely true. The PR
system, as we have already stated, refers to a system
under which seats are allocated in proportion to
the votes received by a party. But under the 2010
Constitution, member lists will be allocated in
proportion to the geographical constituency or ward
seats each party received. The end result again will
be that if the election for the geographical seats
produces a disproportionate result, the list members
will, if anything, increase.
5.0 Recommendations
5.1 The case for a mixed
electoral system for Kenya
Kenya’s experience with electoral politics shows
that voters greatly value representatives who are
diligent about their constituency responsibilities,
and who consistently convey their voters’ demands
to the government. This partly explains the high
turnover rates of members of Parliament at election
time. This might also partly explain why the
committee of experts engaged for the drafting of
the 2010 Constitution, retained the FPTP system in
the electoral process. In order to enhance equality
between votes however, this paper suggests that this
system should be accompanied by a run-off system.
This is where parliamentary candidates, just as in
the presidential race, would be required to receive
more than half the votes cast in order to be declared
outright winners. If the first round of voting does not
produce an outright winner, the top two candidates
must go for a second round of voting and the one
whoever gets the highest number of votes wins.
This will not only curtail the tendency of declaring
8 Article 90
8
Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
winners with a minority of the vote, but also would,
in polarized multi-ethnic constituencies like most
urban areas, enhance the outreach to more than
simple majorities.
Though the continuation with the FPTP system may be
justified, it does not address the mal-apportionment
of votes and the zero-sum character of elections
that currently permeates the electoral system with
its winner takes-all formula. It is still necessary to
examine what complementary electoral mechanisms
are required to meet the challenges of Kenya’s national
politics which include the inadequate representation
of women, ethnic, racial minorities and persons with
disabilities. To deal with these anomalies, it would
be advisable to adopt a parallel PR system based on
party lists targeting these groups.
In general as has already observed, the PR system is
thought to produce more balanced and representative
tickets. In a PR system in multi-member constituencies,
the allocation of seats will mirror the distribution of
the popular vote. The candidate selection process
under PR is more centralized, and because of the
greater visibility of the whole slate of candidates, there
is greater incentive for parties to present a list that
mirrors the voter profile. In contrast, in majoritarian
systems where candidates are selected for singlemember
districts the selection process is often in the
hands of the local constituency party and there is little
incentive for each to pick candidates that will produce
a balanced ticket at the national level. Nominations
under the PR system are also more idea-centered
whereas nominations in single-member constituencies
are more candidate-centered. In Israel, for instance,
the system of PR ensures that persons belonging to the
Arab minority are able to elect a number of members
to the Knesset, which is fairly representative of the size
of the Arab minority (Varennes, 2004). The PR system
should, in this case, cater for multi-member districts.
In drawing up a scheme for a party list PR system
geared to be cross-ethnic, Kenya could draw on
examples from other parts of the world that have
encountered similar political challenges. Among
states observing ‘mixed FPTP and PR systems’,
Timor-Leste at one extreme, elects only 15 per cent
of its legislature on a single-district FPTP basis and
the rest on PR. At the opposite end of the spectrum,
South Korea allocates 20 per cent of the seats under
the PR system. Of the countries combining FPTP and
PR in Africa, Senegal allocates 46 per cent of the
total number of seats on a PR basis, compared to
36 per cent for Seychelles, 67 per cent in Guinea
Conakry and 80 per cent in Tunisia (Chege, 1997).
PR lists would in this case specify the excluded
ethnic and racial minorities. Under some rules, seats
have been reserved for identifiable minorities – as
has been done with “black communities” in Colombia,
Tuaregs in Niger, and “tribes” and “scheduled castes”
in India. This is a potential solution to the challenge of
representation of the smallest minority groups in Kenya
such as the Endorois, Ogiek, El Molo, etc. But it could
also be applied to racial minorities
that lack political representation
even though they play a significant
role in the economy, notably Kenyan
Asians, Kenyan Whites as well as
Kenyan Arabs. A combined FPTP
and PR system has the advantage of
better representation of politically
excluded groups (Ibid.).
A majoritarian system of voting
(such as has been retained for
Kenya with mostly single-member
constituencies) disadvantages
minorities. Fortunately there is
a requirement within the 2010
Constitution in Article 100 and
Schedule 5 for a law to be enacted to promote
the representation of minorities and marginalized
groups which has to be done within five years after
the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution. The
paper therefore proposes the adoption of a mixed
electoral system that combines both the plurality
of the majoritarian system and the proportional
system of representation. This proposal will require a
constitutional amendment.
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Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
5.2 The case for ‘descriptive’
representation
As earlier observed, the idea behind ’descriptive’
representation is based on the notion that the
government and the national assembly should
be a miniature portrait of the society as a whole,
reflecting divergent groups, opinions and traits.
However, some issues have been raised about
this notion. First, there is the question of what
and who should be mirrored in the representative
body as individuals/voters are bundles of different
traits. Ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples are
crucial parts of the mosaic of any state but they are
not the only pieces in the puzzle. In Kenya, there
are other groups that have been under-represented,
or not represented at all – the poor, certain racial
groups and some ethnic groups
that are very small in population
size. Second, the mirror notion
of descriptive representation
may be deemed dangerous if it
precludes citizens from choosing
representatives who do not belong
to their “group”. One of the basic
tenets of democracy is freedom
of choice at the ballot box, but if
one’s choices are limited, with the
voter having to vote for a candidate
from their own “group”, then that
liberty is constrained.
Still, it is clear that some degree
of descriptive representation
is valuable, especially when
minority groups have common
interests; when they tend to vote
as a block in elections; and when they are broadly
marginalized in decision-making. Such descriptive
representation should then enhance the substantive
influence of minority groups. Secondly, despite the
shortcomings of this concept, this paper suggests
that if a parliament includes none, or very few
members of ethnic minorities, that is a worrying
sign that those minority interests are not being
taken care of. Minority parliamentarians to this end
can reassure a group that they are being heard and
articulate needs which the majority may empathize
with but may not fully understand or appreciate.
Thus, Kenya should reserve a minimum number of
seats for representatives of certain minorities. For
example in Romania, seats are reserved for small
minorities that do not secure at least one deputy or
senate mandate in parliamentary elections. Likewise
in the New Zealand parliament, there are six seats
reserved for the Māori community. In India, the
constitution puts a limit on the size of the Lok Sabha
(parliament) of 550 elected members, with two
reserved seats for members who can be nominated
by the president to represent the Anglo-Indian
community. There are also provisions to ensure the
representation of scheduled castes and tribes, with
reserved constituencies where only candidates
from these communities can stand for election. In
Ethiopia, the Yefedereshn Mekir Bet (Council of
the Federation) has 117 members, one each from
the 22 minority nationalities and one from each
professional sector of the remaining nationalities,
designated by the regional councils which may
elect them directly or provide their direct elections
(Varennes, 2004).
Quotas, minority districts and similar statutory
mechanisms of affirmative action are another route
to enhancing the representation of minorities.
Communal rolls and special electoral requirements
to accommodate the representation of cultural groups
based on language or religion exist in Lebanon,
Belgium, Cyprus and Zimbabwe (Bird, 2004).
It is, however, necessary to note that all affirmative
action initiatives have distinct drawbacks.
Within the legislature, it may lead majority
representatives to completely relinquish any
responsibilities for minority interests. But on the
positive side, reserved seats grant the minority
ethnic groups greater control over the selection
of their candidates, whereas quotas allow the
majority group to assert control over the selection
of the minority candidates.
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Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
This paper therefore proposes that ‘minorities’ whoes
interests require representation be identified and
included in the legislature. The 2010 Constitution
already envisages this in Article 100 which states
that parliament shall enact legislation to promote
the representation of such groups. The legislation
that is envisaged to actualize these constitutional
provisions, could amend Article 97 (c) to increase
the number of nominated members to eighteen
(from the current twelve), to allow room for the
nomination of more minority groups as envisaged
in Article 100.
Second, the envisaged legislation should cater for
reserved seats. When minorities fail to “naturally”
make it into legislatures through regular electoral
competition, they can be guaranteed some
representation through “communally based”
reserved seats. Reserved seats are those seats
in parliament, to which representatives would
otherwise be either elected or appointed, but in
this case they would be set aside for designated
communities. Such parliamentarians may be chosen
only by the members of the represented group (based
on a communal roll), or by the voters as a whole, but
only from among candidates taken from a specific
community or group. This is the principle by which
47 seats were reserved for women. By their very
definition, reserved seats usually rely upon a predetermined
assessment of what constitutes a ‘group’
and how large the group is. Reserved seats are a
useful way of guaranteeing the inclusion of minority
voices in parliament.
Thirdly, this paper proposes that the envisaged
legislation also cater for minority inclusion in the
county governments. More often than not, minorities
are geographically clustered and this means that
decentralizing power down to the county, city
or municipality, will automatically empower a
community which may be a minority nationally, but
a majority locally.
6.0 Conclusion
Due to the rapid growth in the number of multiparty
states and the diffusion of democratic norms and
standards, the ability of minorities to be included
and represented in parliament and government has
taken on increasing importance. The protection
of minority rights is best achieved and articulated
through a combination of majority sensitivity and
minority inclusion. Minority voices are heard, and
minority rights more respected when representatives
of minority groups enjoy full access to participation
in the political sphere, public life and the relevant
areas of decision making.
The full participation of minorities
in government does not imply that
elected minority representatives
are the only politicians capable
of protecting and advancing the
dignity and political interests of
marginalized communal groups.
But it does imply that members of
minority groups can run for office;
have a fair chance at winning
office; and consequently have a
voice in national, county and local
government structures. It is also
true that having a representative
of one’s own group in parliament
is not the end of adequate representation or political
involvement, but the beginning. It is crucial that
minorities are included not just as tokens but as
full players in the decision making process. In
summary then, an inclusive parliament is one which
demonstrates a social diversity which is appropriate
to the nation and reassures minorities and indigenous
peoples, women and other under-represented
communities that they have a substantive role in
decision making. It is a parliament which celebrates
difference and sees the benefits of utilizing the talents
of all the members and groups within its society.
Under Kenya’s new Constitution, the country must,
within 5 years from the date of the promulgation of
11
Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
the 2010 Constitution, enact a law to “promote” the
representation of minorities.9 The term “promote”
however, does not mean the same as “guarantee”. In
the long run, it is surely better to start championing
for this legislation as soon as possible. This paper
proposes a mixed electoral system that will encompass
proportional representation, which is a system that
faithfully translates votes cast into legislative seats
won and thus avoids some of the destabilizing and
unfair results that emanate from the FPTP system. We
further noted that when thresholds are low, almost
all votes cast in PR elections go towards electing a
candidate of choice. This will redress the zero-sum
character of the current electoral with its winner
take-all tendencies.
9 Article 100
12
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Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
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Bird, K. (2004). The Political Representation of
Women and Ethnic Minorities in Established
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(January). Available at: http://ipsa-rc19.anu.
edu.au/papers/bird.htm#_ftn5 (Accessed on
February 25th, 2011).
Chege, M. (2007). The Case for Electoral System
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communication.go.ke/Kriegler_IREC/
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Stockholm: International IDEA. Available
at: http://www.idea.int/publications/
annualreport_2005/index.cfm (Accessed on
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Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) (2003).
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Locke, J. (1960). Two treaties on government
(Revised ed.). Cambridge: University Press.
Madison, J. (1966). The federalist papers No.10
(Revised ed). London: Everyman Publishers.
Odida, I. (2010). Representation in the EAC
political integration process. In: Let us talk
about East African political federation. EAC
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Secretariat.
Oloo, A. (2007). Minority rights and transition
politics. In Wanyande, P., Omosa, M., and
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Pitkin, H.F. (1967). The Concept of Representation.
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13
Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
14
SID’s Constitution Working Papers Series
No. Author(s) Title
1 Dr. Joshua Kivuva Restructuring the Kenyan state
2 Dr. Ben Sihanya The presidency and public authority in Kenya’s new
constitutional order.
3 Dr. Obuya Bagaka Restructuring the Provincial Administration: An Insider’s View.
4 Dr. Othieno Nyanjom Devolution in Kenya’s new Constitution.
5 Mr. Njeru Kirira Public Finance under Kenya’s new Constitution.
6 Dr. Musambayi Katumanga Security in Kenya’s new constitutional order.
7 Dr. Oloo Adams Elections, representations and the new Constitution.
8 Mr.Kipkemoi arap Kirui The Legislature: Bi-cameralism under the new Constitution.
and Mr. Kipchumba Murkomen
9 Prof. Paul Syagga Public land, historical land injustices and the new Constitution.
10 Mr. Steve Akoth Ouma Challenges of nationhood: Identities, citizenship and
belonging under Kenya’s new Constitution.
Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
15
Notes
Elections, Representations and the New Constitution
Sid Constitution Working Paper No. 7
16
Notes
Published by:
Society for International Development (SID)
Regional Office for East & Southern Africa
Britak Centre, First Floor Ragati/Mara Road
P.O. Box 2404-00100 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. +254 20 273 7991
Fax + 254 20 273 7992
www.sidint.net
ISBN No: 978-9966-029-01-0

MUBI COLLEGE MASSACRE: A betrayal of hope

In what is an extremely bizzare massacre, 27 students from the Federal Polytechnic Mubi college in Nigeria were massacred 2 days ago in which pleriminary investigations link to forthcoming Campus elections.

This seems to be a graduation of violence means that characterise college elections all over Africa. In Kenya for Example, the immediate former SONU secretary General, Alex Matere was attacked by what has been severally linked to political hooliganism.

Several colleges have closed down due to botched elections, several elections nullified due to fraud and many candidates disqualified for engaging in intimidation and hooliganism.

This tells a sad story about our generation. It tells of a generation that is perfecting the art handed to it by its fathers. A tradition that one can armtwist democracy through violence and terror, that power can be gotten through blood letting and that human life is insignificant as it can be arbitrarily sacrificed to gain power.

In Kenya, ethnicty continues to get root n college politics. Electioneering seasons see mushrooming of ethnic cohorts, not to celebrate the beauty of diversty but as bargaining schemes for power. This is what refelcets itself on a national scale with such perfect resembalnce.

It is even worrying that many college student leaders find themselves in national politics. In Kenya for instance, Several minsters and other prominent leaders had stints at college politics. Hon. James Orengo, Anyang’ Nyongo, kabando wa Kabando, William Ruto and many others.

If it is this same translation that we will see in the coming decade, then the political future of our countries is bleak. Africa will then have to contend with the same problems of ruthlessness, hoolignains and negation of the sovereign right of people to choice.

I urge those of my generation to continually exercise tolerance, to continually be able to know that just as we are entitled to choice so is everyone else. We are a people bound in the same skin, faced by the same challenges, inspired by the same hopes. It is inexcusable for this continent to loose 25 young Nigerians whose contribution to the world would certainly have been great.

And as Kenya heads to election, political interests will start to infiltrate our colleges. As young scholars, we know that sensationalism, regionalism, tribalism and intolerance is what has costed our country its hope. We cannot afford its continuance, we cannot afford its perpetuation and we must fight for its termination.

We have a chance of exerising knolwldgebale democracy. Where our vote is founded on conviction and concern for ourselves and our collective growth.

I mourn the 27 young Nigerians. I urge speedy investigations and prosecutions.

May God bless Africa. May God bless Kenya.

Lone Felix

Personal Statement