I am not interested in extending my stay in power, declares Uhuru
Mercy Wangui and PCSU
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday denied claims he is interested in extending his stay in power whether as head of state or Prime Minister in a new system of government being proposed by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
The Head of State said his push for constitutional review was not meant to create a position for him to continue beyond his term, which ends in 2022.
President Uhuru during his Madaraka Day speech on June 1 declared that Kenya was at a constitutional moment and rallied the country for a possible referendum to change the supreme law in order to address what he termed as the challenges of the day.
Uhuru and opposition Chief Raila Odinga have been pushing for BBI, which has proposed radical changes to the executive, which would see the creation of the position of Prime Minister and two deputies which critics claim they are interested in.
“I have no clue whether there is going to be premiership in the Constitution. People are interested in the value of their vote, distribution of resources, and inclusion in government.
I have not heard of any other issues and I cannot comment about something that has not been a principle of BBI. The office that exists today is the Office of the President.
Our Constitution is clear that a President serves for two terms. I am in now my second term. No president has broken that and I don’t intend to do so.
“It is unfortunate that some people have interpreted the scenario of a referendum to change the Constitution, to mean that certain individuals want to change that Constitution to extend the presidential term,” he said.
On BBI, Uhuru said the process was meant to create national cohesion by resolving some of the deep-seated challenges including the country’s divisive politics.
“In our time of multiparty politics, we have had tremendous tensions every election cycle.
My partnership with Hon Raila (Odinga) was to see if we can get to understand the issues that drive these tensions through the consultative BBI forums,” he said.
Uhuru who spoke at State House, Nairobi during a webinar hosted by the Atlantic Council under the theme, “strengthening US-Africa ties through trade” also sought to dispel fears that the ongoing trade talks between Kenya and the United States would undermine the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The President said Kenya’s trade deal with the US would instead assist the continent by creating a reference upon which other African nations would negotiate bilateral arrangements within the AfCFTA framework going forward.
“Kenya will be the first under the new AfCTA, so, we are going to be trailblazers in this and we hope that others will also follow through,” President Uhuru said.