Deputy President William Ruto has declared that President Uhuru Kenyatta will not extend his rule beyond 2022.
Commenting on the recent call by some leaders for the President to go for the prime minister’s seat, DP Ruto said the Jubilee leader respects democracy.
“I do not believe the President has any plans to change the Constitution to extend the presidential term limit. I say this because I know the President and he respects democracy. And, for the avoidance of doubt, the Jubilee Party has no scheme to change the Constitution and take back this country to the dark days of politics where power stuck in one corner,” he said yesterday.
He spoke in Mathira, Nyeri County, during the burial of area MP Rigathi Gachagua’s mother, Martha Kirigo Gachagua.
The DP made his remarks as some MPs from his Rift Valley backyard said they have no problem with President Kenyatta assuming the prime minister’s role as long as Mr Ruto is President under a coalition partnership.
The stand by MPs Nelson Koech (Belgut), Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi South) and David Sankok (nominated) on Tuesday adds to attempts by politicians and national leaders to carve a role for President Kenyatta when his second term ends.
This proposal has taken different forms, including hushed conversations on whether to amend the Constitution to allow Mr Kenyatta to come back as prime minister or serve some other powerful role.
Mr Koech told the Nation: “We strongly support the idea of President Kenyatta remaining to serve Kenyans. If President Kenyatta feels he has the energy and Kenyans still believe in the Jubilee agenda, there should be no reason whatsoever why we cannot have him (Kenyatta) as prime minister and Dr Ruto as President. It will be good to keep it in Jubilee Party.”
Mr Sankok backed Mr Koech’s proposal, saying Jubilee leadership is still intact.
“We have no problem if Mr Kenyatta becomes PM and Dr Ruto as President as that will enable them to accomplish the Jubilee manifesto and the Big Four agenda,” he said.
Mr Tonui argued: “We, leaders from the Rift Valley, fully support the idea.”
But Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, speaking at the Nyeri function, said he is confident that the President will retire after his term.
"I am his MP and I would know if he wanted to remain in power. Those saying he will extend his term are drunk. I assure you he will retire at the end of his term," Mr Kuria said.
However, MPs Kuria Kimani (Molo) and Martha Wangari (Gilgil) yesterday disagreed with the pro-Ruto team, saying the President should retire honourably.
“President Kenyatta has himself said that he wants to retire. I do not see why some leaders want to push him to hold on. Let him retire; he will still remain the Jubilee Party leader and key adviser,” Ms Wangari said.
Some MPs from the Mt Kenya region also opposed the proposal, saying the Constitution must be respected.
Kirinyaga Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici said in Kutus, Kirinyaga: “Let us not be hypocrites. If you have done your 10 years as per the Constitution, go home and let other people come in.”
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro strongly opposed any proposal that would make Mr Kenyatta a PM.
He questioned the seriousness of former Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe’s remarks that Mr Kenyatta might remain in power but in a different capacity.
Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, an anti-Ruto crusader, cryptically said: “When lovers are making their vows, a meeting is called for celebrations but, when the love goes sour, a meeting is not called when they are parting ways.”
Mr Nduati Ngugi (Gatanga) told the Nation: “The pro-Ruto leaders have been insulting and undermining the President … I don’t see them working together beyond 2022.”
However, Senate Deputy Whip Irungu Kang'ata and Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu want leaders to be careful and stop personalising the proposed positions.
Born in 1930, Ms Kirigo lived on to take part in the Mau Mau war by supporting fighters who hid in the Aberdare and Mt Kenya forests in Nyeri. This would see her, like many other women, spend several years in British detention camps.
She was married to the late Nahashon Reriani Gachagua and was the mother of 11 children, among them the first Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua (deceased) and the Mathira MP.