On 27 August 2010, a new constitution was promulgated by the third President of Kenya, the late Mwai Kibaki and with it came a bicameral system of parliament. Between 1966 and 2012 when the tenth parliament was dissolved ushering in the new system, Kenya’s parliament operated as a unicameral legislature—one house chamber with 210 elected members, 12 nominated members and two ex-officio members, the Attorney General and the Speaker of the house.

Under the bicameral system, parliament is made up of the Senate (comprising 47 elected and 20 nominated members) and the National Assembly (consisting of 290 elected members from constituencies, 47 Women Representatives and 12 nominated members).

While both houses serve to make the laws of the land, the Senate represents the counties and protects the interests of the counties and their governments whereas the National Assembly deliberates and resolves issues of concerns to all Kenyans. 

Roles of the Senate

  • Law-making.

The senate considers, debates and approves bills. According to Articles 110 and 256 of the Constitution, the bills that may originate from the Senate are;

  • Bills concerning County Governments
  • Bills that propose amendments to the Constitution through Parliament as envisaged in Article 256 of the Constitution.
  • Determining allocation of national revenue among counties as per Article 217 of the Constitution and overseeing national revenue allocated to county governments. While considering the Division of Revenue Bill under Article 218 of the Constitution, the Senate ensures that the counties get their share of the revenues collected at the national level.
  • Considering and determining any resolution to impeach the President and Deputy President as per the provisions of Article 145 and 150(2) of the Constitution respectively. The Senate plays a pivotal role in the process of impeaching the following State officers-
  • The President
  • The Deputy President
  • The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Senate
  • The Governors.

Roles of the National Assembly

Article 95 of the Constitution states that the following shall be the roles of the National Assembly:-

  • Represents the people of the constituencies and special interests in the National Assembly.
  • Deliberates on and resolves issues of concern to the people.
  • Enacts legislation in accordance with Part 4 of this Chapter.

The National Assembly;

  •  Determines the allocation of national revenue between the levels of government, as provided in Part 4 of Chapter Twelve.
  • Appropriates funds for expenditure by the national government and other national State organs.
  •  Exercises oversight over national revenue and its expenditure.

The National Assembly;

  • Reviews the conduct in office of the President, the Deputy President and other State officers and initiates the process of removing them from office.
  • Exercises oversight of State organs.

The National Assembly approves declarations of war and extensions of states of emergency.

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