President Kenyatta has rubbished fears that he will extend his term beyond 10 years, assuring Kenyans that elections to pick his successor will be held on the stipulated date of August 9, 2022.
Mr Kenyatta said while he had a duty to remind Kenyans to think about the kind of leader they would elect to succeed him, the ultimate decision lay with the voters.
He insisted that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which was thrown out by the Court of Appeal last week, was neither meant to extend his term nor lock anyone out of the 2022 State House succession race.
“I’m ready for an election under prescribed time as I’ve said several times and that’s the schedule I’m working with,” Mr Kenyatta told senior editors at State House, Nairobi on Monday, debunking claims that there are plans to postpone the 2022 elections.
The President, however, cast doubts on the poll, citing the implications of the Court of Appeal’s finding that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had no quorum.
“I’ve not had such talks (of postponing the election) and I’ve no comment on it but if indeed what the court even ruled on the BBI is anything to go by, then they are telling us that we cannot have a General Election because we don’t have a constituted IEBC. Let us wait and see what unfolds,” he said.
President Kenyatta is the appointing authority for IEBC commissioners and has since sent the names of Juliana Wihonge Chirera, Francis Mathenge Wanderi, Irene Cherop Masit and Justice Abonyo Nyangaya for vetting by Parliament.
The four candidates are poised to replace Connie Nkatha Maina, Dr Roselyne Akombe, Dr Paul Kurgat, and Ms Margaret Mwachanya, who resigned.
In the candid interview, Mr Kenyatta said he was grateful to have served for the two terms, but insisted he had passionate ideals that he would continue advocating for as a citizen once he exits office.
“I believe this is part of my agenda — to be able to bring people together and to be able to ensure that we have a peaceful, stable and united country,” he said.
“If you go back to 2013, it has always been my agenda to bring the people of Kenya together. So, if decisions of 2007 brought us together, why can’t we bring these other people together? What is the problem with bringing more people on board?” posed Mr Kenyatta.
The Head of State, however, warned Kenyans against electing leaders who are only out to pursue personal and selfish interests at the expense of the country.
“It’s not my duty nor my responsibility to tell people or Kenyans how or where they should vote. It’s my duty to remind Kenyans that they need to look at who they vote for and why they are voting for that particular person. It’s unfortunate that within and amongst us, there are those who will sacrifice national interest for personal political agenda. It’s for Kenyans to decide,” the President added.
There have been fears among Deputy President William Ruto’s allies that plans were underway to put off next year’s elections.
Some of Mr Kenyatta’s key lieutenants — Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe and Central Organisation of Trade Union (Cotu) secretary-general Francis Atwoli — have also insisted that the 59-year-old Head of State is too young to retire.
Mr Atwoli, one of the proponents of BBI, has repeatedly said that the country’s next General Elections slated for 2022 should be postponed by a year to accommodate constitution changes.
Mr Atwoli had argued that it would not make sense for the country to head to the polls before the BBI is passed.
“If they [Court of Appeal] don’t give us a ruling we will move to the Supreme Court and if we still don’t get it we will have to start afresh and we will appeal through our parliamentarians to extend the elections by even one year until we get BBI,” Mr Atwoli said recently.
This talk has attracted sharp criticism from the DP’s camp, with leaders terming it a scheme that should be stopped.
“Some people think that they can coerce by telling us that elections will be put off if BBI isn’t adopted. You people are fooling [yourselves]. Kenya isn’t yours alone, it is ours too. Stop this chest thumping and impunity. Don’t test our patience,” the DP was quoted in West Pokot County in June.
Sign up for free AllAfrica Newsletters
Get the latest in African news delivered straight to your inbox
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, an ally of the DP, has accused the President of turning the Jubilee administration’s agenda upside down at the expense of influencing his succession.
“Definitely Ruto will step aside once Uhuru term comes to an end in August 2022. There exists no other reason justifying his resignation prior to that date. Ruto hasn’t blocked any single Uhuru’s agenda. BBI wasn’t Uhuru 2017 manifesto. Again, Ruto didn’t stop the BBI but independent courts did,” Senator Kang’ata said.
Mr Kenyatta said the BBI was not meant to keep him in power or to help the former premier ascend to the throne in 2022.
“I heard some people saying BBI is to propel Raila Odinga, Raila Odinga declared his presidency with or without BBI and he is still on the ticket. BBI has nothing to do with his candidacy,” the President said.