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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Extending Uhuru’s term will require a referendum, says Maraga

By The Frontier Post Reporter

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Retired Chief Justice David Maraga yesterday dismissed arguments by forces pushing to have next year’s General Election postponed.

Maraga argued that postponing the election would amount to extension of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s term in office, a decision that, he said, would require a referendum.

 “The Constitution limits the term of the President to two terms of five years. You can’t extend the term of the President even for one day. That will require a referendum. The Constitution also limits the term of Parliament to five years,” said Maraga.

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni has said that delaying the election would save constituencies which do not meet the national polls agency’s threshold of at least 164,000 population for a parliamentary constituency.

Kioni, who chairs the National Assembly’s Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, said the number of constituencies at risk had increased from 26 to close to 50.

Besides the constituencies, proponents of the delay appear keen on the outcome of the Building Bridges Initiative case at the Court of Appeal.

The BBI Bill seeks to amendment the Constitution to, among other things, expand the Executive. But in a recent interview with KTN, Maraga, who presided over the Supreme Court bench which nullified the 2017 presidential election, has faulted the discussion saying there was “nothing exceptional” to warrant the change of election date.

“It can only happen in very exceptional a circumstance that is in case of war or a state of emergency. One cannot argue that elections date should be extended because of the Building Bridges case is in court,” he said.

Speaking in Mombasa yesterday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati maintained that the election will be held on August 9, 2022 as provided for in the Constitution unless the courts rule otherwise.

Commissioner Abdi Guliye also took the same position during a meeting of the agency and senior editors. “As far as we are concerned the election date is August 9, 2022 though we understand that players are planning to move to court to make proposals but we are going by the law in the mean time,” he said.

Opposition leaders Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and Martha Karua have also opposed any plans to defer the General Election. Kalonzo has said doing so would interfere with the constitutional rights of Kenyans.

“So please, let us disabuse ourselves of any notion that elections will not be held in August next year,” he said. Karua has warned against any plans to amend the Constitution.

“The changes that we need for a credible election in 2022 do not require a constitutional amendment. We need to change the management of the elections in this country and not individuals. We need to go for the systems both at the local and international level,” she said.

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