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Powers and Functions of the President of Kenya. The president of the Republic of Kenya (Swahili: Rais wa Jamhuri ya Kenya) is the head of state and head of government of Kenya. The president leads the executive branch of the Government of Kenya and is the commander-in-chief of the Kenya Defence Forces. The official residence of the president is State House, Nairobi. The wife of the president is referred to as the first lady of Kenya. Uhuru Kenyatta was the incumbent president, since 9 April 2013. He is the son of the first president, Jomo Kenyatta.
The President of Kenya
The President is the head of state and government, as in most republics. He is also the Commander-in-chief of the Kenya Defence Forces.
The President has the power to appoint every leader within the executive including Cabinet Secretaries and the Attorney General of Kenya.
Kenya has had a total of 4 presidents. Two of the former Presidents, Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi (deceased). The longest serving president was Moi who served for a total of 24 years.
The National Assembly with at least a third of all the members, may set in motion an act to impeach the President. The National Assembly may do so on the grounds of gross violation of the Constitution or any other law, where there is reasons to believing that the President has committed a crime under national or international law or for gross misconduct.
If the motion to impeach passes in the National Assembly the act to impeach moves to the Senate and if at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate vote to uphold any impeachment charge, the President shall cease to hold office. Removal of President by impeachment – Kenya Law Reform Commission
Functions Of The President In Kenya
Article 132 of the Kenyan Constitution says the following with regards to the functions of the president of Kenya.
1. Role Related To Parliament
After every general election in Kenya, the president should address the opening of each newly elected parliament.
The president should also address a special sitting of Parliament once every year and may address Parliament at any other time.
The president should also once every year report, in an address to the nation, on all measures taken and the progress achieved to realise the national values in Article 10 of the Constitution. He or she should also publish the details of the measures and progress mentioned above in the Kenya gazette.
The president should submit a report for debate to the National Assembly on the progress made to fulfil the international obligations of the Republic of Kenya.
any other State or public officer whom the Constitution requires or empowers the President to appoint or dismiss, and only in accordance with the Constitution.
3. Head Of The Executive
As the head of the Executive arm of government, The President should—
chair Cabinet meetings;
direct and coordinate the functions of ministries and government departments; and
by a decision published in the Gazette, assign responsibility for the implementation and administration of any Act of Parliament to a Cabinet Secretary, to the extent not inconsistent with any Act of Parliament.
4. Other Functions
Other functions of the president of Kenya include the following:
perform any other executive function provided for in the Constitution or in national legislation.
except as otherwise provided for in the Constitution, may establish an office in the public service in accordance with the recommendation of the Public Service Commission;
receive foreign diplomatic and consular representatives;
confer honours in the name of the people and the Republic;
subject to Article 58, declare a state of emergency; and
with the approval of Parliament, declare war.
Some of the other executive functions the president may perform as provided in the Constitution or in national legislation include to:
suspend a county government according to Article 192 of the Constitution.
consider, approve and assent to any bill passed by Parliament or refer the same bill back to parliament (Article 115).
represent the country in national and international fora and events.
come up with the portfolio structure for the national executive to respond to the functions and competencies that the law assigns the national government.
chair the National and County Government Coordinating Summit.
The president should ensure that the actions of the relevant cabinet secretaries fulfil the international obligations of the Republic of Kenya.
Powers Of The President Of Kenya
Now that we have seen the functions of the president of Kenya, what are their powers?
is the Head of State and Government;
exercises the executive authority of the Republic, with the assistance of the Deputy President and Cabinet Secretaries;
is the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces;
is the chairperson of the National Security Council; and
is a symbol of national unity.
The President should—
respect, uphold and safeguard this Constitution;
safeguard the sovereignty of the Republic;
promote and enhance the unity of the nation;
promote respect for the diversity of the people and communities of Kenya; and
ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
The President should not hold any other State or public office.
A decision of the President in the performance of any function of the President of Kenya under the Constitution should be in writing and bear the seal and signature of the President.
Power Of Mercy
On the petition of any person, the President may exercise a power of mercy in accordance with the advice of the Advisory Committee on the Power of Mercy, by—
granting a free or conditional pardon to a person convicted of an offence;
postponing the carrying out of a punishment, either for a specified or indefinite period;
substituting a less severe form of punishment; or
remitting (cancel or suspend) all or part of a punishment.
The Advisory Committee on the Power of Mercy comprises of—
the Cabinet Secretary responsible for correctional services; and
at least five other members as prescribed by an Act of Parliament, none of whom may be a State officer or in public service.
The person to be elected as president should be a Kenyan citizen by birth, who can be elected as member of parliament and has been nominated by a political party or stand as independent candidate. The candidate should also have been nominated by more than two thousand voters in twenty-four counties.
A Candidate will be disqualified to run for presidency if they have allegiance to a foreign state or is working for the government in any capacity as a public officer. Being a public officer is not applicable to the incumbent president
Term of office
A president is eligible for two consecutive terms of five years each starting from the date the president is sworn in.
Roles and responsibilities
The following are the roles of the president of Kenya:
The president will be responsible for addressing new parliament and report once to special parliamentary seating concerning issues of national value and governance
The nominating authority of cabinet secretaries, attorney general, principle secretaries and high commissioners in accordance to constitution
Chair cabinet meetings and oversee the running of operations in various ministries and government departments.
The president may also undertake any other executive functions as permitted by the constitution.
Power of mercy
The president has the power of mercy to pardon a person who has convicted an offence. This can only be done upon a petition by any person and advise and recommendation based from advisory Committee after looking into views of the victim of offence.
Constitution of Kenya
Kenya’s 1963 independence constitution was based on the standard “Lancaster House template” used for the former British colonies in Africa, was subject to early amendments, and was replaced in 1969.
Under the Constitution of Kenya, the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, was represented as head of state by a Governor-General of Kenya. The Constitution also provided for a bicameral parliament, the National Assembly, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each province had an elected assembly.
In 1964, the Constitution was amended to make the country a republic with the President as both head of state and head of government, and in 1966, the membership of the Senate and House of Representatives was combined to form a unicameral National Assembly.
The key changes proposed by the new constitution released are in the following areas:
Separation of Powers between the Three arms of government i.e. Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
The Executive – who holds executive authority and the qualifications.
The Legislature – the composition, and representation of the people. An introduction of an upper house – the Senate.
The Judiciary – qualations to hold office and appointment.
Devolution – only two levels of Government: National and Counties.
Citizenship – among other issues, gender discrimination was ended, and citizens who acquire foreign citizenship will not lose their Kenyan citizenship.
An advanced Bill of Rights that among other things recognizes Socio-Economic rights of the Kenyan citizens. (Chapter Four).
The removal of age limit of 35 years to run for president. New draft allows people to run as long as they are of adult age. Article 137(b)
Right to Recall legislators (Senators and Members of the National Assembly). (Article 104)
Representation in elective bodies has to effectively meet a gender equity constitutional requirement, namely that no more than two-thirds of members shall be from either gender in its make up. Chapter 7, Article 81(b)
Integrity Chapter, requires an Independent Ethics Commission to be set up that will monitor compliance with Integrity in all government institutions and make investigations,recommendations to the necessary authorities i.e. Attorney General and any other relevant authority.(Chapter Six)
An advanced Human Rights and Equality Commission that will also have power to investigate and summon people involved in Human Rights abuses within the government and with the public.(Article 252)
Equitable Sharing of resources between the National government and the County government through a resolution of Parliament. Chapter 12- Part 4.
An Equalisation Fund to improve basic access to basic needs of the marginalised communities. (Article 204).
Any member of the Public has a right to bring up a case against the government on the basis of infringement of Human Rights and the Bill of Rights – Article 23(1)(2). The courts and government institutions are bound to the Bill of Rights as per the constitution Article 2(1), Article 10(1).
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission that is an Independent entity and has the power of regularly reviewing salaries of all State officers to ensure the Compensation bill is fiscally sustainable. Article 230(5).
Independence of the Judiciary is affirmed Article 160.
An Independent National Land Commission created to Maintain oversight and manage all Land(Public) belonging to National and County Government and recommend policy on addressing complaints from public,advise the National government on ways of improving National and County land management,planning,dispute resolution. Article 67.
Environmental Rights are recognised under Chapter 5(Part 2)
Freedom of Media establishment from penalty on expression, by the State on any Opinion and dissemination of media. Article 34. This is subject to the Article 33.
The executive at the top most levels will be constituted of a president, deputy president and the Cabinet.
Key functions of the president
Shall be the Head of state & Head of government of the Republic of Kenya.
Shall not be a member of parliament
Commander-in-Chief – and will declare war and state emergency upon approval by the National Assembly and Cabinet respectively.
Head of Government – will wield executive authority and will co-ordinate and supervise all major sections of the executive branch.
Shall nominate, appoint with prior approval of the national assembly, and dismiss Cabinet Secretaries.
Preside over Cabinet meetings.
Shall assent bills into law or refer them back to parliament for further review.
Shall nominate, and after approval of Parliament, appoint a Chief Justice.
Shall nominate, and after approval of Parliament, appoint an Attorney General
Shall nominate, and after approval of Parliament, appoint a Director of Public prosecution.
Shall appoint Judges to the Superior Court recommended to him/her by an independent Judiciary Service Commission.
Shall appoint Ambassadors/High Commissioners to Kenyan embassies abroad.
The legislative branch is bicameral and will constitute of the following
An upper house – the Senate
Each of the 47 counties will have a Senator
A senator will be elected by the voters.
Tentative total number of Senators will be 60.
Presides over presidential impeachment hearings (article 145)
A lower house – the National Assembly
Each constituency (290 the number gazetted by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in October 2012).
Majority of the Members of National Assembly will be directly elected by voters
There will be a Women’s Representative MP elected from each county – therefore guaranteeing a minimum of 47 women MPs in the National Assembly.
Tentative total number of MPs will be 347.
Votes to investigate and impeach the president (article 145)
County Assemblies and Executive
The country will be divided to approximately 47 counties – the counties are comparable to the current districts.
Each county will have a County Executive headed by a county governor elected directly by the people and;
A county assembly elected with representatives from wards within the county.
There will be three superior courts:
Supreme Court – highest judiciary organ consisting of the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice and five other judges. This court will handle appeals from the Appeals and Constitutional courts. It will also preside over presidential impeachment proceedings.
Court of Appeal – will handle appeal cases from the High Court and as prescribed by Parliament. It will constitute not less than 12 judges and will be headed by a president appointed by the chief justice.
An independent Judicial Service Commission has been set up to handle the appointment of judges. They will recommend a list of persons to be appointed as judges by the president (this article will be enforced after the transitional period). The commission will consist of the following:
A Supreme Court judge – elected by members of the Supreme Court to chair the commission
Court of Appeal judge – elected by members of the Court of Appeals to chair the commission
Two advocates, one a woman and one a man, each of whom has at least fifteen years’ experience, nominated by the statutory body responsible for the professional regulation of advocates
One person nominated by the Public Service Commission.
Shall be appointed by the president – with approval from the National Assembly
Hold office for only one term of not more than 6 years.
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