Drop the idle talk on presidential terms
Proposals by President William Ruto’s allies to have the Constitution changed to extend presidential terms from five to seven years are in bad taste. They are a bad sign of impending dictatorship and which must be resisted by all means.
In November last year, only three months after the General -Election that ushered President Ruto into office, Salah Yakub, the youthful first-term Member of Parliament for Fafi in Wajir County — who is also from the governing United Democratic Alliance — said he would move a motion in the House to remove presidential terms. That was the first sign of trouble.
The matter ended after the President came out to distance himself from the utterances.
Last week, Nandi senator Samuel Cherargei another close ally of the Head of State, made a presentation at Bomas, where the National Dialogue Committee is holding bipartisan talks, proposing that the law be changed with a view to pushing the presidential term. Many Kenyans will view the Senator’s remarks, just as they did Yaku’s, as a message from the Executive.
President Ruto has so much on his plate to deal with, both locally and internationally. From the back-breaking public debt, climate change challenges, high cost of living and a distrusting Opposition to fast-diminishing public confidence in his administration.
Given this, it raises many questions that the Executive is allowing talk of presidential term limits to resurface. It is worrying that the proposal is coming from persons close to him. It creates the impression that these persons are throwing these views in the public domain for purposes of testing the political waters. But at whose behest?
President Ruto must come out clear on this matter. He must pronounce himself on the issue and call out those promoting the narrative that goes against the letter and spirit of the Constitution and the wishes of the citizens.
The Executive, particularly the President, should protect Kenya’s democracy and be obligated to defend the Constitution in line with his oath of office. It is important that he does so early to silence those of a contrary view even if they have a right to self-expression under the Constitution.
There is so much work in and outside Parliament for leaders at all levels to engage in. Change of term limits should be the last thing on their mind.