NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The clamour to change Kenya’s constitution ahead
of the 2022 general election is gathering pace as both leaders,
the church and citizens dig in.
The proposed changes
include the introduction of the position of prime minister and
his deputies, reduction or increase in the number of legislators
and creation of more constituencies.
At least two petitions have been presented to parliament by
ordinary citizens and MPs in bid for the change.
The latest petition in the National Assembly is from Ezekiel
Njeru, a citizen.
The petition seeks to increase the number of constituencies
from 290 to 300, wants MPs’ term increased from the current five
to six years, senators tenure from five to seven years while the
president to serve four years from the current five.
Before that, Tiaty MP Kassait Kamket drafted a bill seeking
to change the constitution, which was promulgated in 2010, to
establish a single seven-year ceremonial presidency and
introduction of an executive Prime Minister’s post.
Church leaders, led by the Catholic Church and the National
Council of Churches of Kenya, have also called for expansion of
Political leaders from both the ruling party Jubilee and
opposition have taken positions on the matter, with the former
opposing and the latter supporting some of the proposed
Jubilee leaders have said they would not allow any changes to
the constitution, especially those touching on the executive.
Deputy President William Ruto, who is leading the Jubilee
Party team, opposed to the changes, accuseing those pushing for
the reforms selfish as they want more positions for themselves.
"We will not burden citizens with more positions in the
"What is there is good," he said.
Jubilee leaders further believe that the clamor for the
changes would slow down development and thus taint President
Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy.
"We will not start campaigns just few months after the
"Those seeking to change the law are ill-timed," said Jubilee
secretary-general Raphael Tuju on Wednesday.
But opposition MPs see the changes to the constitution,
especially on the executive, as a way to enhance inclusivity and
unity in the country.
They further said the changes would ensure opposition leaders
have a role to play after elections.
Minority Leader in the National Assembly John Mbadi noted
recently that his party ODM would push for a parliamentary
system because a presidential one is not good for democracy.
The current clamor opens a new battle between politicians, as
both sides prosecute the issue in public.
A majority of citizens have similarly taken stand for or
against the proposals based on their party affiliations
especially on the changes to executive.
But many are supporting the reduction in the number of MPs,
noting it is too high.
"I support the scrapping of the woman representative position
because the MPs are an additional burden to the public. So far,
the holders of the position have not proved its worth," Charles
Ngige, a project coordinator at a non-state organization, said
Ngige, who supports Ruto and Kenyatta, however opposed the
changes on the presidency, noting they would expand the
structure of the executive creating unnecessary positions.
But Simon Odhiambo, a welder in Nairobi, said the current
structure isolates several communities from leadership leading
"The reasons our elections are so competitive is because
positions go to few people isolating the rest. We should change
this," he said, adding he supports reduction of the number of
On social media the discourse is gaining momentum, with
critics tearing into some of the proposed changes.
"No one is going to take education seriously in Kenya when
half of the MPs and MCAs are functioning illiterates. Whoever
wants to remove the clause that MPs must have Form Four
education does not have good intentions," said Hassan Mohamed on
Analysts, however, noted both sides are not genuine in their
opposition against or support for the changes.
"Ruto supporters see it as a move to dim his presidency in
case he wins the 2022 general elections since he is the heir
apparent," said Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer and
Wandera, on the other hand, said opposition MPs want to
expand the executive to ensure their leaders get positions and
play a role in country’s leadership.
"The problem is that politicians are short-sighted. When in
power, they oppose meaningful changes believing they would stay
there forever," he said.
"On the other hand, those in opposition push for changes
because they are not in power.
"Kenya needs a people driven process," Wandera added.