BY ALEX NDEGWA and WAHOME THUKU
Early election campaigns have focused on presidential hopefuls to the exclusion of potential running mates on whom the Constitution thrusts automatic tenancy at State House in two extreme circumstances.
The first exceptional circumstances in which a running mate, who automatically becomes the Deputy President if his or her candidate wins, are death of the president-elect before swearing-in, or after the first-half of the five-year-term.
The other exceptional circumstance is if the President is impeached, in which case like in the case of the president-elect dying before being sworn-in, the second-in-command will assume the top office for a 60-day period within which fresh elections have to be held.
In case both the president-elect and the designated deputy die before taking over, according to Chapter 139, the Speaker of the National Assembly acts as President for the 60-days within which another election must be held.
These provisions that have attracted little attention in the on-going campaigns are what political analysts would wish to pay more attention to as they evaluate the aspirants, for they could just end up wielding power.
But interestingly, if the President is impeached, say though joint effort by those against him or her in Parliament, and probably even with the instigation of his or her deputy, there is a possibility the second in command takes over.
This is because the law provides that the President can also be removed through a Motion by an MP supported by at least a quarter of all members on the basis of investigating him or her for physical or mental capacity to rule. The process will, however, involve a tribunal to be appointed by the Chief Justice.
This is very much unlike the old Constitution that gave the President a 90-day period to rule if his or her boss died in office, because at least on one score, he or she gets to complete the term of the one elected to rule.
The current Constitution has also made it impossible for the first and second candidate, in cases where there is no clear winner in the first round, to change running mates.
Unlike in the previous years when the Head of State could reshuffle his Cabinet, including the Vice- President, the ball game has changed with the new Constitution: The number two is effectively cushioned by law from just being a ceremonial assistant, but a de facto deputy and co-ruler.