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The Kenya Parliament Today: A Genuine Counterweight to Executive Power

Kenya’s Parliament celebrates its achievements and reflects on the road to bicameralismDavid Rousseau and Kenneth Marende

SUNY/CID’s USAID-funded Kenya Parliamentary Strengthening Program collaborated with the Kenya National Assembly to host the Kenya Legislative Development Conference in Nairobi. The March 29-30, 2012, conference provided an opportunity to reflect upon achievements made and outline steps forward for the 11th Parliament as it works to implement the new constitution. With these achievements, Parliament now stands as a truly co-equal branch of government comprised of Members with the knowledge, skills and capacity to engage in rigorous debate and high level scrutiny to ensure that the interests of Kenya and her citizens are met.

Conference speakers paid tribute to achievements made by the current Legislature, and described Kenya as the fastest growing democracy in Africa. House Speaker Kenneth Marende remarked that Parliament was “clearly” in the forefront in transforming the country into a more democratic nation. Kenyan Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs, H.E. Kalonzo Musyoka said: “Things have changed drastically, there is no way that the Executive can muscle the ability of Parliament to carry out its responsibilities particularly the House committees. This is what over the years we have been waiting for.”

The Conference provided a fertile environment to outline specific needs for the 11th Parliament in implementing the new constitution including increased oversight powers, greater public participation, equal opportunities for women in Parliament, and top-notch capacity in the technical departments. In addition, the conference marked a 12-year collaborative relationship between SUNY/CID and the Kenya National Assembly. As was remarked by Members and scholars alike, the Kenya National Assembly has undergone profound changes since Kenya’s independence nearly 50 years ago, and now boasts one of the most advanced parliaments in Africa.

This high profile conference was attended by the Prime Minister, RT Hon. Raila Odinga, and  the Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs, H.E.Kalonzo Musyoka. The Honorable Kenneth Marende, Speaker of the National Assembly presided over the Conference. Interim Dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy David Rousseau provided the welcoming address remarking on the impressive transformation of Parliament. He commended the Parliamentary leadership and MPs for having a strong vision as well as parliamentary staff for helping to achieve that vision.

See more of SUNY/CID's work in Kenya

Posted May 21, 2012