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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The 2010 Constitution made provision for the devolution of significant power and resources to 47 county governments, who were elected for the first time in March 2013. This chapter reviews the origins, design, implementation, and impact of these important changes in the structure of the state. It considers the historical roots and proximate causes, the reasons behind the semi-federal design, and the factors that have led to full implementation. It assesses the impact of devolution to date on separation of powers, ethnic politics, and development. It argues that, first, devolution has achieved a degree of separation of powers, but struggles between levels of government persist; second, it has enshrined the principle of ethnic sovereignty and tied access to patronage resources to territorial ethnic identity; third, it has rerouted patronage networks rather than overturning them.

Keywords: devolution, ethnicity, patronage, constitutional reform, semi-federalism

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