Assumption team seeks full powers for president-elect

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

The Assumption of Office Committee that prepared the swearing in of President Uhuru Kenyatta now wants the law amended to ensure the president continues to enjoy all his powers in the event that the Supreme Court nullifies an election.

The committee, chaired by Joseph Kinyua, is proposing the legislation of a new Act lifting the limitations of the powers of the President under temporary incumbency to ensure the president retains all his powers as provided for in the Constitution.

The committee says Article 134 of the Constitution on limitations should be lifted to allow the president to continue operating until the casting of votes in the subsequent presidential election. The move comes after the Supreme Court nullified Uhuru’s victory after the August 8 election. Then, he had limited powers under the temporary incumbency.

Following the move, Uhuru was not allowed to carry out some of the mandates of a sitting president during the election period. Under this part of the Constitution, the President assumes temporary incumbency from the date of the first vote in a presidential election until the newly elected President assumes office.

Part of the restrictions include powers to nominate or appoint judges or any other public officers, powers to appoint or dismiss Cabinet secretaries and other State or Public officers, powers to nominate, appoint or dismiss a high commissioner, ambassador, or diplomatic or consular representative.

Consequently, the committee is also recommending that the Act to provide for the processes, requirements and scope of the scenario that provided the Deputy President to act in the absence of the President or when he is incapacitated to provide clarity and certainty. Further the committee also recommended amendments to law to enlarge the time frame within which the president-elect must take the oath of office to between 9am to 4pm.

The report seeks the “introduction of a new section into the Act stating that whenever a declaration of a president-elect is nullified by the Supreme Court the Article 134 limitations on powers of the president under temporary incumbency are also lifted up to and until the casting of the first vote in the subsequent fresh presidential election.”

In the report tabled in the National Assembly, the committee also recommended that budgetary allocation for the assumption of office should be factored in the main budget during a presidential election.

Further the committee also proposed that in future the government should consider procuring executive shuttle busses, preferably armoured, to provide pool transport for VVIP guests during such occasions.

In addition, the committee proposes that in any presidential election cycle, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the judiciary should enhance public sensitisation of various requirements timelines and outcomes, surrounding the nomination of presidential candidates as well as effect of certain occurrences on the election date.

The committee wants amendments to ensure that in the absence of chairperson of the committee the Attorney General will take over while the government on the other hand should enhance public sensitisation on the existence, mandate and functions of the committee.

The committee made the recommendations even as it announced that the swearing-in exercise in November last year cost the taxpayers Sh352.1 million. Security, protocol and logistics took the highest share of Sh146.2 million, followed by foreign affairs, which was in charge of inviting the heads of state to attend the ceremony, which spent Sh98.9 million.

The state luncheon, at which Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the guest of honour, spent Sh46 million, media and communication Sh45.8 million, while Sh15 million was spent on entertainment.

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