UDA MP reveals plan to remove presidential term limit

Members of Parliament take the oath of office at the National Assembly

MPs take the oath of office at the National Assembly on September 8, 2022. Fafi MP Salah Yakub said some UDA lawmakers are working on a constitutional amendment Bill to replace the two-term limit with an age limit of 75 years. 

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

A UDA lawmaker has revealed plans to seek the scrapping of the presidential term limit, noting that the cap should be on age, not period of service.

Fafi MP Salah Yakub said some UDA lawmakers are working on a constitutional amendment Bill to replace the two-term limit with an age limit of 75 years. 

Should the MPs have their way, they would give Dr William Ruto, the sitting President, the leeway to seek re-election for four terms, or 20 years. Dr Ruto is aged 55 and has not indicated any intention to contest beyond the current term limit.

Mr Yakub, who said there have been closed-door discussions on the proposal, however refused to divulge the names of the MPs behind the new development or whether it has the blessing of the UDA party top brass.

Mr Yakub said that what is remaining is for the proposers to sit and draft the constitutional amendment Bill and forward it to Parliament.

Update: UDA has reacted to the comments made by Fafi MP Salah Yakub

He first made the comments during a relief food distribution drive in Garissa County over the weekend, where he said: “We want to tell Kenyans that the limit on two terms should be relooked. We want it to be changed to an age limit where when one gets to 75 years then he or she cannot contest”.

“We will come up with an amendment Bill to try to change this because we want the requirement to be on age limit and not terms. If a president is doing a good job, then he or she should not be limited by the terms,” he added.

Repeal of section 2A

The two-term limit came into effect ahead of the 1992 elections following the repeal of section 2A of the old constitution. The 2010 Constitution maintained the presidential term limit.

According to Article 142 of the Constitution, the President shall hold office for a term beginning on the date on which the President is sworn in, and ending when the person next elected President is sworn in. The article goes ahead to state that a person shall not hold office as president for more than two terms.

The timing of such a proposal, coming only three months after a hotly contested presidential election, could raise political temperatures. At his current age, for instance, President Ruto would be eligible to contest in the 2027, 2032 and 2037 elections if the term limits are replaced with the age limit.

A proposal of such magnitude, however, would require the proposer to marshal a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament, as well as a simple majority of Kenyans in a referendum.

Cast in stone

National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed laughed off the plans, saying the presidential term limit is cast in stone. 

“This madness of Kenya Kwanza will come to an end very soon. They are talking about many things but once their minds settle, they will realise that they have work to do and stop all this monkey business they have been taking the country through in the last two months,” he said.

Makueni Senator Dan Maanzo also dismissed the proposal, terming it “totally ridiculous” and next to impossible. “Where will such an amendment pass through? He is just looking for cheap publicity. It will be a waste of time,” said Mr Maanzo.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said such a move would be met with stiff resistance from Kenyans, while Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna said: “Let them bring it first then we shall see what next. We will not waste time on roadside or funeral declarations.”