On the History of the Restoration of a Multi-Party Political System in Kenya


Natalia Matveeva


On the eve of the declaration of independence in 1963, the specifics of the alignment of political forces in Kenya consisted in the struggle for future power between two large nationalist unions – Kenya African National Union (KANU) and Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). The outcome of this struggle brought victory to KANU and largely determined the vector of the future political history of this country. Under its first President, Jomo Kenyatta (and Chairman of KANU), multiparty Kenya became a de facto one-party state after KADU was dissolved in 1964 and the activities of the opposition Kenya People Union (was emerged in 1965) was banned in 1966. Kenya became officially the one-party state under Kenyatta’s successor D. аrap Moi in 1982.

In the process of further establishing the authoritarian regime, he used KANU to extend state-party control to all forms of socio-political life of the country (parliament, judiciary, trade unions, public organizations, etc.). The main guarantor of ensuring order was repressive measures against any forms of dissidence.

After the adoption in 1991 of the amendment to the Constitution on the liberalization of the political system, Moi managed to remain as president twice more (after the 1991 and 1997 elections), thanks to the disunity of the opposition represented by parties created on ethnic grounds. Only in 2002, the opposition managed to create a multi-ethnic short-term alliance National Rainbow Coalition led by M. Kibaki. As a result, the first president was elected in Kenya, who was not a member of the party that had been in power for 39 years before. It also put an end to the 24-year «Moi era», which was characterized by the flourishing of corruption, the crisis in the economy, political repression and tribal strife.

But the same challenges, and the unresolved land issue among them, again led to the unrest during the next presidential campaign of 2007–2008. The culmination was the largest ethnopolitical crisis in the history of Kenya, which was stopped only thanks to the efforts of international mediators. In 2010 a new constitution was adopted, in which an attempt was made to reform the political system in order to prevent the aggravation of interethnic conflicts in the future during presidential election campaigns in multiparty Kenya. The purpose of the main provisions of the Constitution is to make politics more inclusive, to expand the participation of the population in decision-making, to overcome of the population distrust to their results of a presidential elections.


KANU, KADU, KPU, NARC, authoritarian regime, one-party system, multiparty system, constitution, democratization of the electoral process




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