The active and meaningful participation of citizens in public affairs is the distinguishing feature of democratic societies, which are judged by the extent to which governments open up to citizen involvement in public affairs and the space they give for citizens to hold the government accountable.

It is because of this that citizens in Kenya and Africa in general continue to demand increased space for participation. Participation in public affairs is important in another respect. It builds people’s abilities to hold authorities to account for the implementation of decisions and actions agreed upon.

The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance requires the African Union member states to recognize people’s participation as an inalienable right of the people of the continent. The quest to promote participatory democracy and to make participation an important principle in the governance of public affairs, has been an important theme in debates on governance in Kenya. Because of this, and in recognition of protracted struggles for democratic reforms, article 10 in Kenya’s new constitution has included democracy and participation of the people among the values and principles of governance, which bind all state organs and institutions as well as state officials.3 In assessing the quality of democracy in Kenya, there are questions whether successive governments have consistently upheld the rule of law, allowed citizens to freely elect their leaders, and whether or not people have been making political decision.