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FACTSHEET: Kenya’s new parliament by numbers

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Probably the most notable thing about Kenya’s new parliament - sworn in on 31 August 2017 - is the number of new parliamentarians, but there is also a sprinkling of members returning from a spell on the sidelines.

It will be the 12th national legislature of independent Kenya. In 2010, a new constitution nearly doubled the number of parliamentarians, from a house of 222 members to one with two chambers and 418 members, including two speakers.

The national assembly has 290 elected members each representing part of a county, 47 women elected from each of the 47 counties and at least 12 members nominated to represent women, youth and the marginalised. These add up to 349 members. (Note: Nominations are made by parties according to their proportion of members.)

The senate is comprised of 47 elected senators from each county, 16 women nominated for gender balance and four representatives of the youth and the disabled. This makes for 67 members.

(Note: Find a full list of those elected and nominated here.)

The newbies and the not-so-new

A street cleaner walks past the entrance to Kenya's parliament before the annual State of the Nation address in March 2017. Photo: AFP/Kevin MIDIGO
A street cleaner walks past the entrance to Kenya's parliament before the annual State of the Nation address in March 2017. Photo: AFP/Kevin MIDIGO" />

About six in every 10 elected leaders (59%) in the national assembly are new. This means at least 167 of the 290 elected MPs in the last house did not make it back.

In a game of musical chairs, at least four of the incoming members returns to the house in a different role. Aisha Jumwa and Mishi Mboko served as the county representatives for Kilifi and Mombasa, but have now been elected to represent Malindi and Likoni constituencies respectively.

Naisula Lesuuda and Martha Wangari, nominated senators in the 11th parliament, will now represent the constituencies of Samburu West and Gilgil.

Sarah Korere, a nominated member in the last national assembly, returns as the elected MP for Laikipia North.

Only 14 senators made it back to the senate, meaning 33 senators are coming in with no experience.

Senators who survived are from the counties of Busia, Siaya, Homa Bay, Bungoma, Vihiga, Kericho, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kiambu, Tharaka Nithi, Garissa, Kilifi, Makueni and Marsabit.

Only 10 of the 47 women Kenyan voters picked to represent counties in the national assembly successfully defended their positions. They are from the counties of Tharaka Nithi, Busia, Homa Bay, Narok, Siaya, Samburu, Murang’a, Trans Nzoia, Makueni and Turkana.

Of the 37 new faces, two women - Janet Ong’era and Liza Chelule - were previously nominated senators. They are now elected county representatives for Kisii and Nakuru.

One unopposed candidate & one vacancy

In a rare event in Kenya’s cutthroat politics, a “no contest” for the member of parliament for Kikuyu constituency in Kiambu county was declared. Anthony Kimani Ichung’wah was elected unopposed and thus had the luxury of sitting back when his colleagues hit the gruelling campaign trail.

The electoral commission postponed the parliamentary election in Kitutu Chache South constituency following the death of aspirant Leonard Mwamba barely a month before the poll.

Party composition in parliament

The membership of the national assembly is drawn from 20 political parties and that of the senate from eight.

Jubilee has 140 of the national assembly’s 290 constituencies, while Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement has 62 members.

There are 15 independent candidates, including one woman representative - Meru’s Mwangaza Kawira. In the senate, only Charles Kibiru of Kirinyaga county made it in as an independent.

The last parliament had five independent candidates, all in the national assembly.

The more the merrier… coalitions

In its manifesto, Raila Odinga’s National Super Alliance (Nasa) lists five founder parties. These are the Amani National Congress, Chama cha Mashinani, Orange Democratic Movement, Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya and the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy-Kenya. Together they have 127 members.

One of the coalition’s members, Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya, has a memorandum of understanding with Chama cha Uzalendo meaning the two members of this latter party will work with the Nasa coalition.

For the Jubilee Party, at least seven parties endorsed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election bid: the Kenya African National Union, Maendeleo Chap Chap Party, Economic Freedom Party, the Democratic Party and the Party of National Unity.

Kenyatta also got the support of the Party of Development and Reform. Together, the total support for Kenyatta’s party is at least 193 MPs.

Then there are independents and 13 other MPs from small parties whose allegiance will depend on the issues at hand or supporter sentiment. They may also be co-opted to permanently side with one coalition.

Hold on, what about the senate?

The Jubilee Party holds more than half of senate seats.

Coalition strength in the senate

The Jubilee Party and its partners have 38 senators, while those of the National Super Alliance have 28 members. There is one independent member.

Still battling the odds: Women in parliament

As outlined in our factsheet ahead of the election, women participation is a key requirement. The constitution requires that no gender shall have more than a two-thirds share of any state organ or government body.

The previous parliament had 68 women in the national assembly: 16 elected; five nominated as well as the 47 women elected to represent counties, according to the Kenya Women Parliamentarians Association. In the senate, all 18 women were nominated by their political parties.

The new parliament will have three women elected to the senate, according to data from the Kenyan chapter of Federation of Women Lawyers. These are Fatuma Dullo (Marsabit county), Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu county) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru county). Dullo was a nominated senator in the last house.

The electoral commission’s list shows that 18 women have been nominated to the senate, bringing the total to 21 - three more than the last parliament, but one short of the minimum one-third threshold.

In the national assembly, there are 23 elected women while six were nominated. Together with the 47 county women representatives the total is 76, which is 41 less than the at least one-third constitutional threshold, but eight more than the last house.

A judicial order for parliament to make laws complying with the gender rule thus looks to be the first of the new house.


Additional reading:

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