Sun, 03 Dec 2023

Kenyan MP Proposes Extending Presidential Term to Seven Years

Voice of America
26 Sep 2023, 04:05 GMT+10

Nairobi - A Kenyan lawmaker from the ruling United Democratic Alliance, or UDA, has suggested extending the presidential term limit from five to seven years.

Speaking to reporters at the parliamentary buildings, Samson Cherargei of the United Democratic Alliance, senator from the Rift Valley region, said that the current five-year mandate is not enough to run a government.

'This enables the president to have a good opportunity to form and establish a formidable team to deliver his manifesto,' he said. 'Besides, the Kenya presidential election is always highly profiled as a result of it being conducted within a short period of time, thus making it a do-or-die adventure.'

'The continuous campaign mood in the country has been occasioned by the perception that elections are held within a short period of five years. In any election period, we lose a whole year in campaigns. And another year is lost immediately after the election because of the litigation in the Supreme Court,' Cherargei added.

Kenya usually has very competitive politics during elections which can lead to deadly protests, ethnic tensions and violence.

In case of a presidential election dispute, the matter is taken to the country's supreme court which takes less than a month to decide.

The court judgement, if it favors the winner, gives him a week to be sworn in and a few weeks to create a cabinet, which is approved by parliament.

Crowds are seen under a screen showing Kenya's President William Ruto, during his swearing-in ceremony at Moi International Stadium Kasarani in Nairobi, Sept. 13, 2022. Crowds are seen under a screen showing Kenya's President William Ruto, during his swearing-in ceremony at Moi International Stadium Kasarani in Nairobi, Sept. 13, 2022.

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Kenya's political commentator Martin Andati says the plan is intended to divert voters' attention away from the real problem faced by the country.

'I think they are creating diversionary tactics because they know that for you to be able to change the term limits you have to go through a referendum. So, I think they could basically be creating something to keep Kenyans busy as a diversionary tactic to get people concerned with that, so that they move away from raising the pertinent issues. So, there are issues. There are issues of the economy, there are issues of the government over borrowing, all those issues. So, to create a diversionary tactic, you come up with something that would now be attractive for people to talk about,' he said.

This month, Kenya experienced the highest fuel prices in its history, reaching 211 shillings per liter of petrol. This increase is expected to impact the prices of essential goods. The government blames the price increase on the global rise in oil prices.

In a statement, Cleophas Malala, secretary-general of the ruling party, distanced the UDA from the ongoing debate on extending presidential terms.

Malala said the president has sworn to respect, uphold, and defend the Constitution, which outlines the presidential term limit.

Any changes to the Constitution would require a referendum.

Cherargei argues that the Constitution can be amended through a popular vote.

'Let's meet in the contest because our constitution envisages amendment of the constitution at any given time so long as the threshold is met under the provisions of Articles 256 and 257 through popular initiative,' he said.

The senator has submitted a proposal to the committee tasked with finding a political solution for the hotly contested 2022 elections. He anticipates that government and opposition members will adopt this proposal in future political conversations.

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