Kenya: Ruto MP reveals plans to scrap presidential term limit

By Victor Abuso

Posted on Thursday, 10 November 2022 14:36
Kenya's incoming President William Ruto takes the oath of office in Nairobi
Kenya's incoming President William Ruto takes the oath of office as his wife Rachel Ruto stands by his side during the official swearing-in ceremony at Moi International Stadium Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya September 13, 2022. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A political storm is brewing in Kenya after one of President William Ruto’s MPs revealed that the ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party plans to seek the scrapping of the presidential term limit.

Fafi MP Salah Yakub said some politicians within the UDA party are looking into a constitutional amendment bill to replace the two-term limit with that of an individual’s age – 75 years.

The move, if successful, would allow President Ruto to continue to run for the next 20 years.

“We want to tell Kenyans that the limit on two terms should be relooked,” the MP said at a political rally in Garissa, Northern Kenya.

According to him, if a sitting president is performing well, he or she should not be limited to a presidency of 10 years.

However, UDA chairman Johnstone Muthama has denied claims that the party is working on such a motion.

“Please take note […] that this is a personal statement that has nothing to do with UDA,” he says.

Muthama insists that the ruling party is democratic, supports the current presidential limit, and no discussion has taken place on the subject.

Even so, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, a close ally of Ruto, has welcomed the idea and says if the bill comes to the Senate, he will support it.

How is the opposition reacting?

During the Parliamentary session on Tuesday, an MP from the opposition coalition – Azimio la Umoja One Kenya – accused Ruto of testing the waters.

Opiyo Wandayi, the minority leader in the National Assembly, alleges that Ruto has been inspired by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who initiated the removal of term limits.

“Any attempt to create a life president like the situation in Uganda shall be resisted vigorously,” says Wandayi.

Dear Kenyans, be vigilant. Save your country from Musevenism

The debate in Kenya attracted the attention of Ugandan opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine.

He urged Kenyans to defend their constitution and reject any attempts to change the constitution. “Dear Kenyans, be vigilant. Save your country from Musevenism,” he said on Twitter.

What does the constitution say?

According to Article 142 of the constitution, the president shall hold office for a term that begins after the swearing in ceremony takes place and ends when the successor is installed.

It also states that a person shall not hold office as president for more than two terms.

Kenyans wanted term limits to ensure one president does not remain in power for long

The two-term limit came into effect ahead of the 1992 elections following the repeal of section 2A of the old constitution by the then President Daniel Arap Moi. This was after pressure from the opposition to allow constitutional change and allow multi-party politics.

Bobby Mkangi, a constitutional lawyer who was among the experts behind the 2010 constitution, warns that any attempts to remove the presidential term limit should be rejected because it will repeal democratic gains in Kenya.

“Kenyans wanted term limits to ensure one president does not remain in power for long,” he says.

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