Founding president and liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from independence in 1963 until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional succession. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but were viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people. President MOI stepped down in December 2002 following fair and peaceful elections. Mwai KIBAKI, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), defeated KANU candidate Uhuru KENYATTA and assumed the presidency following a campaign centered on an anticorruption platform. KIBAKI's NARC coalition splintered in 2005 over the constitutional review process. Government defectors joined with KANU to form a new opposition coalition, the Orange Democratic Movement, which defeated the government's draft constitution in a popular referendum in November 2005. KIBAKI's reelection in December 2007 brought charges of vote rigging from ODM candidate Raila ODINGA and unleashed two months of violence in which as many as 1,500 people died. UN-sponsored talks in late February produced a powersharing accord bringing ODINGA into the government in the restored position of prime minister. Source: World Factbook
Kenya is a republic dominated by a strong presidency. The political system is in flux as contentious debate continues on efforts to adopt a new constitution. A popular referendum in 2005 defeated a proposed constitution supported by the government. The constitution to be replaced was drawn up at independence. This constitution, heavily indebted to English law, has already been amended more than 30 times but is widely agreed to require a major overhaul. The constitution gives the president wide-ranging powers, provides for no prime minister, and is ill-suited to multiparty politics, despite the 1991 repeal of a section that had formalized the one-party state. Key proposals in the recently defeated draft constitution called for reducing the powers vested in the office of the president, providing for a prime minister, and ensuring the independence of the judiciary.
Besides the constitution, a pressing concern in Kenyan politics is corruption. Recent anticorruption efforts have led to the establishment of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) and to laws requiring civil servants to disclose assets and mandating transparency in procurement. The government also promised to trace ill-gotten assets and has set up commissions to unravel the decades-old illegal allocation of public lands and a major corruption scandal from the 1990s, the Goldenberg Affair. Despite such anticorruption activity, Kenya’s anticorruption campaign, in the perception of most Kenyans surveyed, has stagnated. Source: Country Profile, Library of Congress