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Draft bill: President to serve one term, PM to head government

By Moses Nyamori | Published Wed, February 28th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 27th 2018 at 22:32 GMT +3
Tiaty MP William Kassait Kamket of KANU who wants President to serve for only one term and preside over ceremonial functions. [Photo by Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

A draft bill seeks to radically alter the country's governance structure to hand Parliament the powers to elect a ceremonial one-term President.

It proposes creation of the position of an executive Prime Minister as head of government, scraps that of the Deputy President and establishes two Deputy Prime Ministers.

The bill seeks to limit a President to a one seven-year term in office – from the current two five-year terms – and have the holder preside over ceremonial functions.

A president under the proposed system of government does not have powers to appoint a Cabinet as it bestows most powers of running the government to the Prime Minister and two Deputy Prime Ministers.

The proposals by Tiaty MP William Kassait Kamket (Kanu) further means Kenyan voters would not participate in electing their President as the holder would be elected by Members of Parliament in a joint sitting of both the Senate and the National Assembly.

The proposed changes requires a person to garner the votes of at least two-thirds of all Members of Parliament in the first round of voting to stand elected as President in a process similar to the election of the Speakers of the bicameral Parliament.

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There have been previous attempts to reintroduce the PM’s post after it ended with the grand coalition government, in which Mwai Kibaki served as President and Raila Odinga, National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader, served as the country’s second Prime Minister.

Nasa had proposed to create the position through a referendum should it have succeeded in forming government.

Rigorous processes

Making changes to the Constitution to alter the governance structure and presidential terms requires a referendum.

In the National Assembly, the bill will be committed to Justice and Legal Affairs Committee once it is introduced in the assembly.

The public would then be required to give their views over the proposed changes.

It would also require the backing of a majority of the county assemblies - at least 24.

Tomorrow, the MP will meet the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriation Committee to discuss financial implications of the proposed changes before the draft can proceed to further legislative processes.

The amendments seek to empower the Prime Minister as the Head of Government. S/he will have powers to appoint and dismiss the two Deputy Prime Ministers, Cabinet secretaries, the Attorney General, the Secretary to the Cabinet and Principal Secretaries.

The holder of the position would be elected by MPs from a member who is the leader of the majority party or coalition upon proposal by the President.

“Within seven days of the first sitting of the National Assembly after an election, or whenever necessary to fill a vacancy in the office of Prime Minister, other than on the occasion of a vote of no confidence, the President shall appoint as Prime Minister: The member of the Assembly who is the leader of the largest party, or coalition of parties represented in assembly,” reads the draft bill.

But if the leader of the largest party or coalition is unable to command the confidence of the assembly, leader of the second largest party, would be picked to hold the position.

General Election

Consequently, the Cabinet would be comprised of the Prime Minister, the two Deputy Prime Ministers and the Attorney General, proposes the draft.

Kamket further proposes changes to the date of General Election and have it held on the second Tuesday of December in every fifth year.

Currently, Kenyans go to polls on the second Tuesday of August of every fifth year.

The draft Bill proposes to discard the procedure of election of president that requires the president-elect to garner 50 per cent plus one of the total votes cast by registered voters as well as 25 per cent in at least 24 counties.

Under the new proposals, the Speaker of the National Assembly shall by notice in the Gazette designate the date for the election of the President.

A candidate for election as President shall submit his or her nomination papers, in writing, to the Speaker of the National Assembly.

If only one candidate for President is nominated, the Speaker of the National Assembly shall declare that person elected.

If two or more candidates for President are nominated, the Speaker of the National Assembly, assisted by the Speaker of the Senate shall hold an election at a joint sitting of Parliament.

A candidate shall be declared President if in the first round of voting, the candidate receives the votes of two thirds of all the members of Parliament.

It proposes that senators are elected by MCAs, with each assembly picking a woman and a man to represent it in the Senate. This will bring the number of elected senators to 94 from the current 47 legislators. There would also be six nominated senators.


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