In 2010 Kenya’s unicameral Parliament was replaced with a bicameral Parliament comprising a National Assembly and a Senate. The National Assembly consists of a Speaker, 290 MPs elected by constituencies, 47 women MPs elected by registered voters from each county and 12 members nominated by political parties according to the proportion of members they have in the National Assembly to represent special interests including youth, persons with disabilities and workers. The Senate consists of 47 members, each elected by the registered voters of each county, 16 women members nominated by political parties according to their proportion of members of the Senate, two members (a man and a woman), representing young people and two members, (a man and a woman), representing persons with disabilities.
The last general elections were held in 2013 and the next one is due in 2017.
Proposed laws are called bills, and are either Public or Private. Public Bills concern matters of public policy or changing existing legislation. The government initiates them with its executive power while private members of either house can promote a private bill.
The first stage is the drafting of a bill by a ministry, in co-ordination with the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC). The first draft is sent to the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), which opens a compulsory consultation process with stakeholders and civil society. Drawing from the various contributions and working with the CIC, the AGC prepares the Bill. The draft Bill is submitted for Cabinet approval and if approved, the Bill is published in the Kenya Gazette and introduced in Parliament.
Parliament scrutinises bills in three readings. The committee in charge of a specific issue/area normally conducts the first reading. Next, the entire Parliament discusses the Bill, before returning the text to the Committee with amendments. The third reading takes place after the Committee has reviewed the draft. Once passed in Parliament, the AG presents the Bill to the Cabinet before it returns to Parliament for a last round of debate. The text approved by Parliament is submitted to the President for assent. If the President signs the bill, it is published and becomes a law. The President can return the bill to the Speaker of the National Assembly to be considered again by Parliament. If Parliament agrees with the President’s proposals or concerns, the bill is accordingly amended and forwarded to the President for assent. If it rejects the President’s amendments to the bill by a two-thirds majority, the bill is returned to him and he is compelled to sign it into law.