Raila, Ruto allies speak in one voice on calls to postpone polls

Deputy President William Ruto with ODM Party leader Raila Odinga at Tendere Secondary School grounds, Gucha, Kisii County on February 1, 2021. [DPPS, Standard]

Allies of ODM leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto have weighed in on the debate on the election date, insisting that there should be no postponement of the exercise scheduled for August 2022.

Speaking to The Standard, National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed said there would be no extension of the elections even for an extra day.

“We are strongly opposed to any debate on postponing next year’s election. Not even for a minute should the General Election be extended,” said Junet.

Some leaders have called for postponement of the 2022 General Election to allow completion of the Building Bridges Initiative’s (BBI) process.

Central Organisation for Trade Unions secretary general Francis Atwoli has led calls to push the elections date from August 9, 2022 until the referendum to change the Constitution is conducted.

Lurambi MP Titus Khamala said given the timelines and lack of preparedness by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, it would be prudent to postpone the election.

The churches have also come out strongly to oppose the same calls.

Junet insisted that the country must respect the dictates of the Constitution by ensuring that the term limits were adhered to. “We must respect the Constitution even as we pursue to make it better through the BBI. We cannot plan to break the law and extend polls date because we want to change the law,” he said.

Junet, a co-chairperson of the BBI secretariat, is among petitioners who challenging the High Court ruling that declared the bid to change the law unconstitutional.

He exuded confidence that if the courts settle the BBI case the country could still go to the referendum.

“Referendum is a one-day business. It is not like the General Election where people are competing for six different positions and the contestants could be as many as 10,000 people,” said Junet.

Suna East Mp Junet Mohamed (centre) at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. March 30, 2021. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Suna East MP said apart for the DP and a few leaders who had expressed reservations on some BBI proposals, there was no strong opposition against plans to amend the Constitution. 

“There is no leader willing to lead the ‘No’ brigade, so if the courts clear it then there might be no opposition and hence we may have a smooth ride in the referendum,” said Junet.

He maintained that the 2022 elections and BBI were two different things, hence there should be no conflict on when they should be conducted.

“BBI is bigger than the coming election. It will come to pass irrespective of 2022, and nobody should tie BBI to 2022,” said Junet. 

Tharaka/Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki said: “Nobody in this country has the political muscle to alter the General Election date, even for a day for any reason whatsoever, except if Kenya is at war.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta is on the record affirming that he will leave office when his time comes.

Ruto, in an interview with KTN News on “Crossfire”, condemned calls to postpone the elections date.

“Those saying you must change the Constitution whether you like it or not... whether the courts like it or not... and if you don’t we are going to postpone the elections... that is the language of impunity,” he said.

He added: “And it has no space in this Kenya. We are a government that believes in the rule of law and I know for sure. This administration will not accept to do anything unconstitutional or illegal. I am very sure there will be elections next year on the second Tuesday of August, and that Kenyans will elect new leadership, whoever they may be.”

The term of the President is protected in the Constitution under Article 255, as well as the date of the elections.

Article 136 states: “The President shall be elected by registered voters in a national election conducted in accordance with this Constitution and any Act of Parliament regulating presidential elections. An election of the President shall be held on the same day as a General Election of Members of Parliament, being the second Tuesday in August, in every fifth year; or in the circumstances contemplated in Article 146.”

Garissa Town MP Aden Duale. [David Njaaga, Standard]

The Service Party leader Mwangi Kiunjuri has previously warned that no amount of confusion in the country can force Kenya to postpone the 2022 General Election.

“We have eyes and we can see the game that is being played in this country. We are told that the BBI case is in court, let them know that there’s no two ways about it. Kenyans want to have an election in 2022, as scheduled,” Mr Kiunjuri said.

Former National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale argues that any ploy to defer the election is dead on arrival.

“Article 101(1) of the Constitution provides that a General Election of Members of Parliament shall be held on the second Tuesday of August of every fifth year. This is the same date for election of the President, Governors and Members of County Assemblies,” he has said.

He added: “Article 102(1) further provides that the term of each House of Parliament expires on the date of the next General Election. It is notable that Article 102(2) provides that when Kenya is at war, Parliament may, by resolution supported by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the House extend the term of Parliament by not more than six months at a time.”

Duale referred to Article 102 of the Constitution. “We are not at war! We are a peace-loving country and we thank Allah for the peace. For those arguing that we can extend Parliament, those plans are as dead as a dodo! For those who would want to give war a strange definition other than its ordinary meaning, please note that the Constitution is always speaking,” he said.

Duale noted that even Covid-19 is a pandemic all over the world, and to argue that “it is a war is not only strange but would imply that the whole world is at war. Let us not split hairs over obvious things.”

“The Constitution did not provide for extension of the term of any other state office, and is only through an extension of Parliament in cases of war where there would be a consequent extension of the term of any other state office whose election date is tied to that of Parliament,” he added.