A new structure under a new Consititution

Kenya’s central government is structured through the constitution with administrative and policy making powers being distributed to its three arms namely Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. However, the current structuring is being replaced by a revamped new governance system following the recent adoption of the new constitution.

Here is a comprehensive covering of the Kenya government structure under the new constitution.


Being by far one of the most crucial arms, it consists of the following primary members:

Headed by the president of the republic, the executive is guided by an underlying framework of laws. The laws require the president to appoint between 14 and 22 cabinet secretaries reflecting ethnic and regional diversity.

Appointments of cabinet secretaries and other key positions such as that of the attorney general, secretary to the cabinet, high commissioners, consular representatives and ambassadors are vested in the president subject to approval by parliament.

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The Legislature

According to the new constitution, the Legislature is held responsible for advocating for the people’s interest in law making. In addition to that, it is vested in two houses - the national assembly and the senate. The adoption of the new constitution adds an interesting twist to law making. This is because the old constitution exclusively placed the law making process in the hands of parliament. The specific roles of the national assembly are:

The Senate

The roles of the Kenya Senate under the new constitution are:

The Judiciary

As the name system, this arm of government mainly centers on the Kenyan Judicial system. The Kenyan Judicial system adheres to a hierarchical system, with The Supreme Court being the highest organ, followed by the Court of Appeal, High Court, Magistrate's Courts and other Subordinate Courts.

The chief justice is the president of the judiciary and is appointed by the president subject to the approval of the National Assembly.

The Supreme Court, being the highest judicial organ, has the following key functions:

The high Court, on the other hand, attends to criminal and civil cases as well as supervising the administration of justice in other lower ranking courts.

The Magistrate's courts as reconstituted under article 169 of the constitution of Kenya 2010 falls under Subordinate Courts and deals with criminal and civil matters within their ranks and jurisdictions. The pecking order of the Magistrates’ courts from top to bottom is as follows: Chief magistrates’ courts, Principal magistrates’ courts, Resident magistrates’ courts and District magistrate’s courts.

The Kadhis’ courts on the other hand as reconstituted under article 170 of the constitution of Kenya have their jurisdiction limited to determining matters arising in the Muslim law regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance and personal status. Kadhi courts solely center on citizens who willingly submit to Islam faith and the Kadhi court system.

Devolved Government

The devolved government, proposed during the making of the new constitution, is primarily geared towards achieving two main objectives.

The county Government, which has since replaced the provincial administration, constitutes of a county assembly and county executive. The responsibilities of the county assembly include:

Even at county level, democratic principles are observed. The people elect the members of the county assembly at Ward level. All the same, additional slots are reserved for nominations. This ensures that membership is well distributed by gender, marginalized groups and persons with disability.

The county assembly is headed by a county Speaker who by law is not supposed to be a member of the assembly.

The county executive on the other hand is charged with the responsibility of exercising executive power at the county level, implementing laws for administration of the county as well as carrying out other executive functions of the county. The county executive gives the people an opportunity to be more actively involved in lawmaking. The county executive is led by a governor who is directly elected by the people at the county level. The appointment of the county executive members is placed under the mandate of the governor, and approval is subject to the county assembly.

Point of note: The executive members are answerable to the governor and shall not be members of the county assembly.

Currently the Kenya devolved government consists of 47 counties representing the initially recognized districts and each one of them forms a county government. Every county government shall further decentralize its services and coordinate its functions in order to efficiently serve the interests of the people of Kenya at the local level.

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