Think Africa Press/allAfrica

Kenya’s constitution promises much, but its implementation has proven difficult.

In 2010, Kenyan political leaders rallied together in a historic moment to publicise the country’s new constitution, bringing into effect some of Africa’s most progressive rights and governance laws. The Kenyan population rejoiced after voting overwhelming in favour of it in a nationwide referendum. The international community called the document a watershed for reform on the continent.

That cloud of euphoria has since settled. Sensing political resistance towards the constitution’s implementation, Kenyans are widely voicing their disillusionment, anxiety and anger. In a country with a rich legacy of impunity, analysts say some members of the political elite are actively preventing the realisation of constitutional principles in order to preserve their political ambitions.

“Professional careers may be in jeopardy,” Andrews Asa Asamoah, East Africa analyst at the Institute for Security Studies, told Think Africa Press. “If you look at the extent of the stakes involved politically for certain coalitions and alliances, there are individual interests that stand to suffer from the implementation of the constitution.”

Passing time

The country is now rapidly approaching presidential and parliamentary elections, slated for March next year. In 2007, Kenya erupted in violence following a disputed presidential result that landed incumbent President Mwai Kibaki another term in office. The chaos claimed more than 1,200 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands. Kenyans and world powers alike have since emphasised the need to shift away from ethnic politics.

With the revival of defunct tribal blocs, however, ethnicity remains central to the political landscape. Lawmakers now appear focused on jockeying for regional supremacy and forging partnerships.

“Political alliances in Kenya tend to be tribal. Now everyone is looking for survival in the next elections,” said Bobby Mkangi, an independent legal consultant and one of eleven architects of the constitution. “The electoral climate definitely breeds huge challenges in the implementation process.”  Read more…