A plan to amend the constitution and scrap the two-term constitutional limit for Kenyan presidents as alluded to by Fafi Member of Parliament Salah Yakub continued to elicit mixed reactions. 

Whilst the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) distanced itself from the reports, a section of opposition MPs and Kenyans vehemently expressed their contempt towards the proposal. 

However, not known to many is that the process is more arduous than what meets the eye.

According to Constitutional lawyer Bobby Mkangi, the final decision on the question of whether Kenya should repeal the provision lies with the people.

The lawyer stated that a decision of such a magnitude would require the input of the people through a referendum. 

“Regardless of whether the proposal is initiated through Parliament or the people (popular initiative) it is one of the issues that must ultimately be subjected to a referendum. Ultimately, it is Kenyans who decide,” he told 

The term limit for a president in Kenya is stipulated in article 142 of the Constitution of Kenya which states that a person shall not hold office as President for more than two terms. 

Article 255 of the constitution further stipulates that any bill seeking to alter the term of office for a president should be subjected to the people’s decision besides its approval by parliament.

To go through the parliament stage, the bill would require the backing of more than two-thirds of the members as opposed to the simple majority threshold used to pass ordinary bills. 

In addition, Mkangi questioned the timing of the proposal arguing that it would be derision of Kenya’s democratic and constitutional history. 

“The debate must go beyond what the Constitution decides and get into why, when and how the proposal is being fronted and popularised,” Mkangi noted. 

“In as much as every Kenyan has a right to propose a constitutional amendment and have it processed through the appropriate processes and institutions,  I think and feel that this particular suggestion is a callous derision of Kenya’s democratic and constitutional history and development considering the season.”

According to Salah, the proposed amendment would see the limit changed from the two terms to an age limit where persons aged 70 years and above would be barred from hiding office.  This was, however, met by strong opposition from politicians from both sides of the divide.

By kenyans

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