In August 2010, the Republic of Kenya enacted a new constitution following 20 years of failed attempts at constitutional reform as well as a failed 2005 referendum. Efforts to resume the reforms re-surfaced after the 2007-2008 post-election violence that underscored the urgency to have the new constitution.
The aspiration is that the new Kenya constitution 2010 that witnessed 67% approval from its people will create the legal framework to allow the government to address several institutional problems which precipitated post-election crisis in 2007. This include the concentration of vast political powers in the executive branch, aggravated by corruption, impunity, and the inadequate protection of minority rights. In particular, the bill of rights, decentralization of executive authority and power separation provided in the new constitution will ensure the needed counter-checks between the government branches to build a solid framework for more stability in Kenya’s democracy.
The new constitution opens up more opportunities for more women to occupy positions of power. Grace Maingi, executive director of Kenya’s Federation of Women Lawyers, said that the constitution now guarantees a third of appointed or elected government posts be filled with women – a departure from past political norm
In the area of reproductive rights, the new Kenya Constitution 2010 saw enacted permits abortion in cases where the mother’s life is threatened or when a medical emergency exits in the opinion of a healthcare professional. In addition, the new constitution provides health budgets to counties to widen the spread of healthcare services where it used to be none. Reproductive health profession Dr Joachim Osur says, “We expect better deployment of health workers in all parts of the country, better nutrition and provision of health services. We expect more women to deliver in hospitals and a sharp improvement of family planning services.”
The new Kenya Constitution 2010 witnessed as overwhelmingly endorsed by 67% of its voters signaled a new era in Kenya history. The referendum demonstrated that Kenya can have a peaceful conduct and results of a referendum that has thrown various political interests at stake and created a needed boost in the self-confidence of a nation to carry out an orderly rule as well as an improved political stability in the international front. All these have the effect of having a nation reborn with a golden future.
However, Kenya history will not be so kind if it ends here. Much work remains to realize what the new constitution holds for a brighter future for succeeding Kenyan generations. Paul Muite, a Senior Counsel opined that the government now needs to re-focus its energies to operationalize the provisions of its new constitution with at 50 or so legislations.