Extending President Uhuru’s term is a Constitutional Coup

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By: Abdullahi Alas

Since the new Constitution was promulgated in August 2010, many Kenyan politicians have found it hard to belief that Kenyans have chosen a new dawn- a new political dispensation.

Former nominated Senator; Paul Njoroge alludes to proper interpretation of article 136 of the Constitution that provides for the second Tuesday in August every fifth year. Citing election petitions and nullification, the good senator doesn’t fathom why Uhruru’s term must not end in November 27th 2022.

Well, election petitions and nullification are within the formwork of our constitutional democracy and legal framework. They are part of the election cycle. You can’t divorce petitions from Presidential elections. Article 140 (1) states that a person may file a petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the election of the President-elect within seven days after the date of the declaration of the results of the presidential election.

The former lawmaker wants the AG to interpret the law with regard to Article 136 and advise voters on when they will elect their fifth president. He threatens to trigger a court action to challenge the electoral timelines as announced by IEBC chairman Chebukati and his team.

With Building Bridges Initiative-BBI hanging by a thread at the appellate court, Legislatures like Jeremiah Kioni pushes for elections postponement in order to allow IEBC to do boundary delimitation, having Central Kenya interest of twenty seven (27) extra constituencies in the newly proposed seventy seven constituencies under BBI. How did want us to vote for a referendum?

These are legislatures subservient to the president to change their constitutions to allow them to stay in power beyond those two terms, with due regards for the rule of law.

Kenyans like most African Countries have strived to have a better governance systems that is accountable, effective and efficient to the people for close to thirty years, Intellectuals, civic society and religious groups stood against authoritarian and tyrannical systems after independence. Many prominent Kenyans have lost their lives, other fled and sough asylum in foreign nation.

This has paved way to the establishment of rule-of-law based governance system characterized by the constitutionalism and constitutional government.  There is a reason why constitutional term limits are set our laws. Article 142 (2) states that person shall not hold office as President for more than two terms.

In Ghana the president serves a four-year term. He is limited to two terms, whether successive or separated. Liberia too has limit on president terms in office.

Other African leaders that have eliminated two-term limits include,  Gnassingbé (Togo), Museveni (Uganda), Déby (Chad), Biya (Cameroon), Kagame (Rwanda), the late Nkurunziza (Burundi), and el-Sisi (Egypt).

It is important to note that relatively weak institutions and the absence of a democratic culture have facilitated the ability of incumbents to manipulate constitutions in these countries. The hope is that, as the level of democratic development improves in these countries, such constitutional coups will become a rarity.

A regular, free and fair election is used, as constraint to government tyranny is a necessary but also sufficient condition to guarantee and safeguards our LIBERTIES.

Elections play three key roles in our societies, it sustains effective democratic institutions, provides legal tolls to people and enhances the ability of the people to change government and brings into public service new and more energetic and progressive political leaders.

It is important to note that, although elections are critical to the transition of a country from authoritarianism to constitutional democracy, they can also serve as a tool for the survival of authoritarian governments.

In a country where three arms of governments (Presidency-Uhuru, legislature-Muturi and Judiciary-Kome) are lead by people from one region-central Kenya, it leaves us with nothing but a lot of cynicism as to why President decided to appoint a Chief justice from Central Kenya? Is there a law extending president term in office?

Were all these culminating to President Uhuru extending his term outside the legal framework using Institutions like Judiciary?

On 9th of August 2022, that Tuesday Morning, we the Kenyan people must prepare to vote and not allow those we donated power to abuse our trust and suffocate us with their power hungry mentality.

We must all participate in how our government runs our affairs. I don’t see what value will president Uhuru add even if we gave him another term. Compared to Kenya’s third president and his predecessor, Mwai Kibaki, President uhuru Kenyatta has performed dismal. Our economy is not doing well; infrastructure is development enabler but not actual development.

We must say no to any form of lack of respect for the rule of law.

Writer is a Governance and Policy Analyst.

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