Democracy and rights
Kenya has been a multi-party democracy since
1991, regularly holding general elections. The elections
are often accompanied by accusations of cheating.
Corruption is a major problem, not least in politics.
Leading politicians have been prosecuted by the ICC for
violence after the 2007 election, but the charges have
been discontinued due to lack of evidence. There are a
number of relatively outspoken media, but the media
climate has hardened in recent years.
The constitution guarantees citizens basic rights
such as freedom of speech and religion, equal conditions
for men and women and the right for suspected criminals
to receive a fair trial.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Kenya, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Citizens are free to form political parties, but
party organizations are usually weak and ethnic
affiliation plays a major role in politics (see further
The presidential election in August 2017 had to be
rescheduled after the Supreme Court annulled it because
irregularities had occurred and that the election had
not been conducted in accordance with the constitution
(see Current policy). The re-election that took place in
October of that year was clearly won by incumbent
President Uhuru Kenyatta, but turnout was low. The main
opposition candidate Raila Odinga boycotted the
election, citing that the electoral commission did not
implement all the electoral reforms he had demanded (see
Calendar). The time leading up to the re-election became
violent, and in strong opposition parties such as
Nairobi and Kisumu, around 10 people were killed by
security forces, according to Human Rights Watch. But
the violence was not as widespread as after the 2007
election when over 1000 people were killed (see below).
Irregularities should also have occurred in
connection with the parliamentary elections in 2017, but
are not considered to have had such a significant impact
on the election result.
The Election Commission is formally independent, but
has been accused of favoring the ruling Jubilee
In January 2018, opposition leader Raila Odinga held
an "installation ceremony" in Nairobi where he swore to
around 15,000 supporters an oath to become "the people's
president" and safeguard the nation's interests. But
just two months later, he chose to reconcile with
President Kenyatta, declaring that the two men would
continue to work together, which would further weaken
the opposition (see Current Politics). Kenyatta and
Odinga agreed to form a new commission, the Building
Bridges Initiative, to create reconciliation in society.
In September 2019, it will present its report on what to
do to address issues such as ethnic conflicts and
corruption and more.
Women are under-represented in politics. However, the
new constitution adopted in 2010 stipulates that one
third of all seats in elected parishes must be filled
with women. After the 2017 election, the 22 National
Assembly's 290 directly elected members are women. Three
women were also elected to the Senate, and three of 47
governors are women.
Freedom of expression and media
The media scene is relatively lively in Kenya and the
constitution adopted in 2010 strengthens freedom of
press and expression. But the government has
subsequently been criticized for new laws restricting
freedom and journalists reporting on sensitive topics
are exposed to threats, violence and harassment. The
authorities also limit the freedom of the media with
reference to the security situation in the country.
The media has traditionally examined the holders of
power and reported on, for example, the widespread
corruption. However, attempts are being made by the
state government to control the reporting, and according
to international press freedom organizations, the
situation has worsened after the 2013 elections. The
tribunal should be able to impose high fines for
violating a code of conduct. Topics that are risky to
report include security issues, police brutality and
extrajudicial executions, ICC, corruption and land
In January 2018, TV and radio channels were banned
from broadcasting directly from Odinga's installation
ceremony. The three largest TV companies Citizen TV and
Radio, KTN News and NTV defied the ban and were
prohibited from broadcasting any programs as long as an
investigation is ongoing. The day after, however, the
ban was lifted by a court (see Calendar).
In the spring of 2018, new legislation was passed
that prohibits, among other things, fake news, bullying,
hacking, cyber espionage and the spread of child
pornography online. Critics warned that parts of the law
could be used to limit freedom of the press.
Defamation cases and other pressures are used to
silence criticism. Newspapers that are folded usually
have to pay high sums in fines, which leads to a certain
self-censorship. It also happens that journalists are
arrested and harassed, often by government officials.
The government can ban state advertising on inconvenient
media. Many private media are facing financial problems.
On Reporters Without Borders index of freedom of the
press in the world, Kenya ranked number 100 out of 180
countries in 2019. The country has steadily dropped
investments since 2013 when Kenya was in 71st place.
Two companies dominate the media market: the Standard
Group and the Nation Media Group (NMG).
Most Kenyans receive their news via radio. In
connection with the outbreak of violence after the 2007
elections (see Modern history), a temporary ban on live
broadcasts was introduced. It has been criticized as a
restriction on media freedom. At the same time, it is
clear that several local radio stations were used to
stir up violence (see ICC trials after the 2007
Corruption is a major problem in Kenya and the bodies
available to fight corruption are ineffective. In 2018,
the government said it wanted to attach great importance
to the fight against corruption. Several corruption
cases have since been revealed and charges have been
brought against people in high positions.
However, it is difficult to gain insight into the
state's business. The government in Nairobi rarely
discloses such information. The legislation available to
make public documents available contains many
exceptions, especially with regard to security issues.
According to the organization Transparency
International's index of perceived corruption in the
countries of the world, in 2019 Kenya ranked 137 out of
180 countries, seven positions higher than the year
Judicial system and legal security
A central objective of the new constitution was to
strengthen the judicial system, whose independence had
been significantly eroded. Among other things, the
President previously controlled the appointment of
judges; it is now run by a new independent commission.
It presents a list of candidates for the president who
then elects one of those who must then be approved by
Parliament in order to take office.
The government occasionally chooses to ignore court
rulings. An example of this is its refusal to follow the
courts' decisions when in the case of opposition
politician Miguna Miguna who was arrested in 2018 and
expelled from Kenya (see Calendar). In some quarters,
the budget cuts made in the judiciary are seen as
revenge for the cancellation of the 2017 election.
In addition to corrupt judges, the judiciary has
problems with police brutality, brutality and torture.
It is common for suspected criminals to be shot to
death. Human rights groups and the media report on
hundreds of extra-judicial executions a year. The
conditions in the overcrowded prisons are poor.
The most severe penalty is the death penalty, but no
one has been executed in Kenya since 1987.
Violent crime has grown sharply in recent years.
Brutal robberies and car hijackings have contributed to
Nairobi's reputation for being one of the world's most
dangerous cities. In the slums of cities, loosely
composed "leagues" are raging. One of the most notorious
is Mungiki, which is described as a sect-like group that
terrorizes residents with mafia methods.
Mungiki also has an element of a religious sect that
wants to revive African traditions and is anti-Western.
The group is dominated by kikuyas and has its roots in a
rural movement inspired by the 1952 mau-mau uprising
(see Older History). It appears that politicians are
using the gang to disrupt meetings organized by
Many observers also believe that the outbreak of
violence after the 2007 election (see Modern history)
was largely planned and organized, and was carried out
by gangs like Mungiki. A Truth, Justice and
Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) was appointed to
investigate the historical background to the ethnic
contradictions. In 2013, the Commission presented its
report in which a large number of people were identified
for human rights and other crimes, historically and
until 2008. However, the report is disputed.
Attempts to answer someone in Kenya for the outbreak
of violence failed and after a while the case was handed
over to the ICC in The Hague. Four people were
eventually indicted by the ICC in January 2012. Two of
them, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, were elected in
March 2013 as the country's president and vice-president
respectively. A trial against Ruto was initiated in
September 2013, but was closed in April 2016 (see ICC
trials after the 2007 election).
No trial of Kenyatta was ever filed, the prosecution
was dropped for lack of evidence. In connection with
this, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda criticized the
Kenyan government, which she accused of refusing to
release important documents. The government must also
have bribed, threatened and harassed witnesses so that
they can withdraw their testimony.
The Kenyan government also invested large sums to
convince governments in Africa, Asia and various Western
countries that the trials would be closed down or
postponed. The African Union (AU) demanded that the
trial of Kenyatta be discontinued and adopted a
resolution that no sitting African heads of state should
be brought to justice. However, few of the AU countries
were willing to act as Kenya, whose parliament voted for
exit from the ICC. However, the country has not formally
asked to leave the court.
The Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab has committed
several acts of terrorism in Kenya. Most casualties were
claimed in an attack on a university in Garissa in 2015
where 148 people were killed (see Calendar).
New government ready
Kibaki forms a new government, now without Odinga and other opponents of the
conflict over the constitution.
The constitution is rejected
The constitutional proposal approved by Parliament in July is rejected in a
referendum, with 57 percent of voters voting against it. The no-side has been
organized in the newly formed Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) under the
leadership of Odinga.
New constitutional proposal strengthens presidential power
Approves a proposal for a new constitution that will continue to have strong
presidential power; The proposal causes a split in the government coalition
National Rainbow Coalition (Narc); Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Raila Odinga is one of the leading opponents of the proposal supported by