Uhuru hints at plan to retire after tenure expires in 2022
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
President Uhuru Kenyatta has yet again given a strong indication he is not keen on staying in power after the expiry of his presidential term in 2022.
In what seemed like a response to sustained calls by some leaders for him to go for the prime minister’s seat that is being proposed in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, the President said no one works his entire life.
“No one will be at work all his life. You must come back to stay with your family,” said Uhuru, who had requested to leave the function earlier to attend a family meeting.
“You know if I don’t attend this family meeting, I will be admonished and told that every time there is such a family meeting, I don’t attend while at the end of my time I will go home and be with them,” he added.
The President spoke at the African Inland Church (AIC) in Milimani, Nairobi, during the coronation of the new presiding bishop Abraham Mulwa and his deputy Paul Kirui yesterday.
The event was also attended by Deputy President William Ruto and his wife Rachel. Others present included Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Charles Keter (Energy), George Magoha (Education), Simon Chelugui (Labour) and Margaret Kobia (Public Services).
Not going anywhere
Last November, Uhuru while addressing Mt Kenya region leaders at Sagana State Lodge, appeared to suggest that he wouldn’t mind being in a leadership position after the expiry of his term, if that is catered for in the BBI proposals.
But former Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Murathe has been more categorical, insisting that Uhuru is not going anywhere after 2022.
He says if an expanded Executive as envisaged in the BBI report comes into force, the President would have the right to vie for any post as he will remain the de facto leader of Jubilee Party, and could even claim the proposed post of prime minister.
This view has also been echoed by Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli, who says the President is too young to retire from politics and must be accommodated in the BBI arrangement.
But Ruto, who is eyeing the presidency in 2022, has declared that Uhuru will not extend his rule beyond 2022.
“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 had said at the burial of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua’s mother, Martha Kirigo.
Ruto’s statement is contradicted by remarks of some of his allies in the Rift Valley backyard, who have said they have no problem with Uhuru assuming the prime minister’s role as long as “their man is president under a coalition partnership”.
And yesterday, Ruto steered clear of politics and instead called on the church to pray for peace and harmony.
“This is a time for all of us to unite and work together and fulfill the words of Matthew 5:9,” said Ruto in reference to a bible verse that says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
But addressing the gathering, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria hailed the President for his speech, saying Kenyan leaders need to have a transitional culture to grow our nationhood.
“At every phase, we need have a renewal as a country, it is very healthy,” he said.
But in a thinly veiled attack on ODM leader Raila Odinga, Kuria said the ODM leader needs to exit political stage just like late US senator John McCain and Mitt Romney, who both vied unsuccessfully for US presidential seats but later called it a day.
“Not for those only in power but also those leaders who have tried vying for political seats, even if they have not been in office, it is healthy for them to exit the stage and let someone take the mantle,”said the MP.