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Rotational presidency and PM post in new referendum push

By Jacob Ngetich | October 14th 2018
Former President Mwai Kibaki during promulgation of the 2010 Constitution. [File, Standard]

Creation of positions of Prime Minister and official Opposition leader are some of the issues to be considered if the referendum is held today.

Others are rotational presidency, reducing the number of counties, elective and nominated positions and the abolition of Provincial Administration

In the last four years, there have been 13 attempts to change the 2010 Constitution, ranging from consultative forums to parliamentary amendments and popular initiatives.

Two Members of Parliament have written to the National Assembly Speaker seeking constitutional amendments to provide for rotational presidency and the position of a Prime Minister appointed by the president.

Aldai MP Cornely Serem has presented a constitutional amendment Bill proposing to have the presidency rotated across all the communities.

Mr Serem avers that the only way to ensure equity was to have every community produce someone to lead the country as opposed to only the dominant tribes having their way.

The proposal was the second in a week after Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny’s Constitution Bill 2018 seeking to have a powerful post of leader of official Opposition which will be taken up by the presidential runners up in the General Election.

In his proposals to the House, Mr Kutuny said the premier who will have two deputies, will be appointed by the president from the party with majority in Parliament and will be in charge of government business in the House.

Total waste of money

Kuttuny argued that the Bill that also seeks to have MPs appointed Cabinet Secretaries does not need to be subjected to a referendum.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga said that he had agreed with President Uhuru Kenyatta that after the Building Bridges Initiative team completes collection of views there will be a referendum.

From 2014, Raila has pushed for constitutional amendments and through the National Super Alliance (NASA) led a popular initiative that collected over one million signatures.

Dubbed the Okoa Kenya Initiative, the move sought to have five issues including devolution, land reforms, electoral reforms, inclusive and the strengthening of public institutions and constitutional commissions.

The initiative however collapsed after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said that the analysis of the data presented by the Okoa Kenya Initiative showed that that the number of valid registered voters supporting the initiative is 891,598.

The numbers fell from the 1.5 million voters that Okoa Kenya team claimed to have collected.

Yesterday, political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi said that this is the right time for the county to address issues that need to be changed to make the operations in the country work smoothly.

“We need to do away with the presidential system completely, kick out the Supreme Court which is a total waste of money, reduce the number of MPs and the removal of Senate will also do good to the country,” Ngunyi said.

After the Okoa Kenya, the Pesa Mashinani push led by then Council of Governors chair Isaac Ruto rooted for increase in the percentage of cash going to the counties.

Since then, there have been proposals through Parliament or the popular initiative.

Thirdway Alliance Party, under 2017 presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot, is also seeking to reduce the number of MPs to 194, from 416 in the National Assembly and Senate.

The party also seeks to use the 47 counties as a single constituency unit for purposes of parliamentary elections to the Senate and National Assembly, elevate the Senate to be an Upper House with veto powers and introduce a single seven-year-term presidency.

Aukot has taken the popular initiative route and has since collected about 600,000 signatures out of the required one million registered voters.

Kutuny and Serem’s proposals are among the latest after five other MPs called for constitutional amendments.

Other proposals before the National Assembly include that of Tiaty MP William Kamket that seeks to create the position of an executive PM as head of government, scrapping the position of Deputy President and establishing two deputy prime minister posts.

Also seeking to amend the 2010 Constitution is Soy MP Caleb Kositany who wants the Senate as well the positions of nominated MP and MCA scrapped.

West Mugirango MP Vincent Mogaka and his Ndia colleague George Kariuki also want to reduce the number of Cabinet Secretaries from 22 to 12, and counties from 47 to 12.


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