President William Ruto's United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party has thrown Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei under the bus, distancing itself from his proposal to increase presidential term limits.
UDA Secretary-General Cleophas Malala said the debate was “superfluous and peripheral”, maintaining that the party’s focus was on delivering on its manifesto.
A few days ago, Mr Cherargei presented a memorandum to the National Dialogue Committee at the Bomas of Kenya seeking to amend the Constitution to extend the presidential term limit from five to seven years before the next election.
The suggestion drew sharp reactions from across the political divide, with critics terming it a ploy to introduce “Presidents for life” in the near future.
While Opposition leaders felt the move could have been sanctioned by the President himself, vowing to shoot it down at all costs, some UDA leaders have maintained it had nothing to do with State House and that it is ill-advised. And, in a statement, Mr Malalal reiterated the position, saying, the proposal is solely an individual’s initiative.
While he stated that the party respects the senator’s right to hold an opinion, Mr Malala said his views do not reflect the perspective of UDA or the party leader, Dr Ruto.
“The President solemnly swore to respect, uphold and defend the Constitution which is abundantly clear and categorical on the presidential term limit,” said Mr Malala.
He further stated that the ruling party shall, in due course, submit its scorecard for the people to evaluate.
He added that the party remains guided by the constitutional timelines to the next General Election.
“This is why, for the past few months, UDA has published a timetable for all its planned electoral activities on the party’s official website. Respectfully, therefore, the term limit debate is superfluous and peripheral,” said Mr Malala.
The proposals by Mr Cherargei come at a time when the Kenya Kwanza administration is struggling to extinguish many fires — from infighting among its leaders to a public backlash over the rising cost of living and unfulfilled election promises.
Mr Cherargei’s argument was that five years was not a sufficient enough time for a President to implement his or her development agenda. Critics, however, believe that, with proper planning, even four years is enough.
Article 142 of Chapter Nine of the Constitution states that the President’s term of office begins on the day of his inauguration and ends when the successor is inaugurated in accordance with Article 136 (2) (a).
It provides for a five-year term with a possibility of a subsequent five-year term.
Any changes to the constitutional framework would require a national referendum.