Ruto urges UDA MPs to desist from debate to alter presidential term limit

Written by on 18 November 2022

President William Ruto on Wednesday, November 16, poured cold water on alleged plans to alter the presidential term limit, saying the debate is uncalled for.

Addressing a Kenya Kwanza Parliamentary Group in State House, Nairobi, on Wednesday, November 16, Ruto said as Head of State he won’t entertain efforts to ‘mutilate the constitution for selfish personal interests’.

He urged MPs to desist from engaging in trivial issues and instead prioritise projects that have a direct impact on the lives of Kenyans.

“You were elected to serve the people; their issues must come first,” he said.

“As President, I won’t participate in efforts aimed at mutilating the Constitution for parochial, selfish and personal interests,” he added.

The President vowed to oppose any attempt to remove the presidential limit.

“The same way we opposed BBI because it was meant to achieve selfish parochial personal interests, we will oppose any move to change the constitution,” the President said while referring to the failed attempt by the previous administration of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta to amend the Constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

“I will be at the front to say no to any change of the constitution including term limits and things that benefit individuals. That’s unnecessary and uncalled for. It’s an exercise in futility because it will not happen under my watch.”

The proposal to alter the current two 5-year presidential term limit was first, publicly, fronted by Fafi MP Salah Yakub last week.

Yakub, a member of the UDA party, wants the presidential term limit removed and the age limit for contesting for the presidency capped at 75 years.

He recently said he won’t back down on his proposal despite a firestorm of backlash.

Yakub, while speaking to the media, stated that the presidential term limit debate is viable and that Kenyans should be ready for it either now or in the near future.

While maintaining that constitutionally-mandated two five-year terms are limited, Yakub said he was not advocating for lifetime service but enforcement of either an age limit of 75 years or removal through the ballot.

“I know we created some storm and these were statements I made while distributing food in Garissa. I want to make it clear that the suggestion has nothing to do with the current president, the government, or any other thing other than Kenyans. It is a debate about the constitution. The constitution can be changed or amended. It’s not the Bible or the Quran,” he said.

“It is something I believe in, we have discussed it with quite a number of legislators. The term limit should not be two terms. My suggestion is the president should be removed through the ballot and an eventual age limit of 75 years.”

The MP had earlier claimed that some of his colleagues in the party were working on a Bill to amend the current law.

He alluded that Ruto, 55, should be given more years to govern if he performs well.

“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,” the MP said.

“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.

UDA party distances itself

He spoke after the UDA party distanced itself from plans to scrap the presidential term limit.

UDA, in a statement on Tuesday, November 8, dismissed Yakub’s comments as a ‘product of a fertile imagination by the legislator’.

The Ruto-led outfit insisted that the party had not been involved in discussions regarding term limits and will not be part of ‘sideshows’.

“Remarks by Fafi MP Salah Yakub that there are plans to extend term limits for the President are a product of a fertile imagination by the legislator. UDA distances itself from the utterances by the MP,” UDA said.

“The Party has not been part of discussions in regard to term limits. The Party is busy implementing The Plan and will not be part of sideshows.”

The 10-year limit was introduced ahead of the 1992 elections following the repeal of section 2A of the old constitution. The limit was also retained by the drafters of the 2010 Constitution.

Yakub’s proposal had also attracted heavy criticism from members of the opposition, who vowed to resist it.

Junet Mohamed, the Minority Whip in the National Assembly said, “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.”

Makueni MP Senator Dan Maanzo also poured cold water on 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,” Maanzo said.

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