Sunday, March 3, 2013

Elections, new constitution in Kenya (also, riots)

Kenyans head to the polls this Monday, March 4 to select a new government. The state-wide elections coincide with a comprehensive overhaul of the sub-national government structures in Kenya that are seen as one of the boldest experiments in government reform within the region. The new system aims to bring Kenya’s government closer to its people, including several significant changes to the country’s organization and new requirements for gender representation in elected assemblies.

Local Government Minister Paul Otuoma dissolved all local authorities in January ahead of the elections, leaving mayorships and local legislatures vacant for the past month. The new constitution creates 47 counties to replace the country’s current provincial system. Each county will be comprised of a County Executive (headed by a governor) and a County Assembly. According to a government-sponsored website, each new assembly will be responsible for “exercising the powers of enacting laws at the county level, acting as an oversight instrument on the county executive, approval of plans and policies for smooth operation and management of resources and county institutions”.