Seth Onyango @SethManex
President Uhuru Kenyatta has ruled out the possibility of him pushing for a third term in office.Uhuru’s assurance could put to rest speculations that he might amend the Constitution to extend his tenure.
It comes even as the Head of State told off critics of his administration’s appetite for Chinese loans asserting the country has a “healthy mix of debt” from the international market.
He questioned people’s obsession with China when the country was getting loan facilities from other countries, including the USand Japan.
“What would worry me is if the debt that we have incurred has gone into recurrent expenditure, paying salaries or electricity bills. But we have utilised our debt to close the infrastructure gap,” he said.
In an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, the Head of State was categorical that he would call it quits when his term ends in 2022.
“Your term in office ends in 2022. You said the Constitution prevents you from standing again. Are you going to try and seek to change the Constitution?” Quest asked him to which Uhuru answered: “No, I am not interested in a third term.”
His assurance could ease political butterflies in his Deputy William Ruto’s camp which has construed the push for a plebiscite to create Executive Prime Minister’s office as one meant to keep Uhuru in power.
But while not dismissing the calls for a referendum, Uhuru told Quest those advocating for the change of law do so to tame the country’s ballooning wage bill.
“People are talking about constitutional change, but they are doing that because of the issues related to the costs of running this nation,” he explained.
Opposition chief Raila Odinga is among the top proponents of a constitutional change to create a parliamentary system with an executive PM and ceremonialpresident.
Raila has continuously argued that the current presidential system has fuelled ethnic divisions every election cycle, sentiments that Uhuru echoed during the CNN interview.
The former premier suggests that the Bomas Draft of 2005 be revisited to distribute executive power between the President and the PM.
Raila has reiterated that a national referendum to change the Constitution is inevitable, adding that “no one can stop an idea whose time has come”. Early this month, he dismissed critics of the referendum “as croaking frogs that will not stop cattle from drinking water”.
“The Building Bridges Initiative has began work and its members will move around the country to collect views from Kenyans. We want to fix our problems once and for all,” Raila said.
During the Quest interview, the President reiterated his commitment to work with Raila to ensure the country achieves unity and cohesion. “We have said…we don’t have to always agree on everything. But we can agree on things beneficial to Kenyans, and we can agree that this issue of cyclical election violence has to come to an end,” he said.