About the 2005 Referendum

About the 2005 Referendum

After Bomas (the National Constitutional Conference) had adopted a draft Constitution , two things happened: the courts decided that a referendum was necessary to adopt a new Constitution, and the government persuaded Parliament to change the law so that the draft could be changed.

The changes were preceded by various meetings held: first by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Review  (PSC) at Naivasha in November 2004. But these proposals were rejected by a reconstituted PSC meeting at Kilifi in 2005, which produced a whole new draft.  But when Parliament convened it rejected the Kilifi draft, and focussed on 7 chapters identified by the PSC as containing “contentious issues ”.


The changed draft was popularly known as the “Wako draft” . It differed from the Bomas draft in several respects, notably that the system of government was rather different: while the Bomas draft (like the CKCR Draft) provided for a parliamentary system of government, the Wako draft included a presidential system; although there was to be a Prime Minister, he or she was to operate under the “general direction” of the President. And the provisions for devolution were much weaker. There were various other differences, too.
There was also in the law provision for a referendum (in accordance with the court decision).
The referendum was held in November 2005. Only about 52% of registered voters voted. The draft was rejected by 58.35% to 41.65%. Though some people undoubtedly voted on the basis of the contents of the draft, and some voted against because they were unhappy about the process, which involved rejecting the Bomas outcome, the pattern of voting seemed to be very ethnic, with only central province having a majority in favour of the draft. In other words it was more a referendum on the government than on the constitution.

Katiba Institute

Kenya National Library Services