How drafters of 2010 Constitution ensured MPs won’t abuse it for political expediency

What you need to know:

  • The power to amend lay with parliament but the numerical thresholds were as high as 90 per cent in the Senate and 75 per cent in the National Assembly.
  • The stand-out example of how cavalier amendments became is the 1975 ‘Ngei amendment.’ Paul Ngei, President Kenyatta’s fellow detainee at Kapenguria, won the 1974 election in Kangundo Constituency but was subsequently found guilty of an election offence. This meant he was barred from running in the coming by-election.
  • Is there a happy conclusion to this story? Can judicialisation of politics be arrested? It is probably too late. This is now a global trend: everywhere critical political questions have morphed into legal questions.

“The tragedy of Kenya’s new Constitution,” a Senator said to me recently, “is that only those who voted ‘No’ had actually read it before the referendum.”

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