President Uhuru Kenyatta is not keen on seeking any elective position after his term ends in 2022, contrary to his foot soldiers’ assertions.
In an exclusive interview with France 24 television show host Marc Perelman yesterday, Mr Kenyatta, who is currently on a state visit to France, dismissed claims that he would be seeking a political position after he retires in 2022, even if a position of Prime Minister were created for him thorough constitutional reform currently under consideration through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Leaders including Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli and Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe have lately been vocal in pushing the narrative that President Kenyatta would consider a political position post 2022, if the BBI is passed.
“I would rather come and enjoy a holiday in France every summer than seek any other political position after my term ends,” he curtly said.
The President was also non-committal on his support for his Deputy William Ruto in the 2022 election, arguing that his focus remained on fulfilling his government’s agenda in the next two years.
“I have always maintained that we have an agenda as a government that we want to complete. We are two years from an election, and this is not the time to start campaigning,” he said in an apparent jab at DP Ruto, adding that his intention was to bring people together and to ensure that the 2022 election does not lead to any crisis.
“It is for that reason that I reached out to the opposition. Of course there are some who feel that this reaching out is meant to sideline Dr Ruto. There is nothing more to the contrary,” he said.
The president also added that the handshake was meant to help the political class agree on the issues that divide them, giving Kenyans an opportunity in future to choose a leader and have a system that is inclusive, with acceptable election results.
“So, anybody therefore who is going against that… I don’t say he (Dr Ruto) is going against this… but my prayer is that especially those in my political party would work with me to help me achieve this for Kenya, and our people. I am hopeful that we shall work together towards this, even with my deputy,” he said.
“My commitment is to this handshake process… Peace, stability, prosperity for the Kenyan people. That is my priority. Once we are over that, and start talking about elective position, you can ask me that question of supporting Dr Ruto,” he added.
Kenyatta Says Gender rule ‘a tall order’
Mr Kenyatta also indicated that he was not keen on dissolving parliament following Chief Justice David Maraga’s advisory on the failure by MP’s to enact the two-thirds gender rule.
He added “that it was regrettable that the gender stalemate has reached this level, arguing that in a democratic space, achieving it will still remain a tall-order.”
Two weeks ago, CJ Maraga advised President Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament for failing to enact legislation required to implement the two-thirds gender rule. In the advisory dated September 21, Maraga said he was responding following six petitions seeking his advice on the matter.
Mr Kenyatta said that as much as he regretted parliaments failure to enact the rule, there was also the need to understand the spirit of the Kenyan Constitution, and that to balance between the right of citizens to elect their representative and the need for gender parity in the country.
“In a democratic society, achieving such threshold on gender requirements is not easy even in developed democracies like the United States, and France,” he said in the interview, adding that he did not want to delve much into the Chief Justice’s opinion as it was now a matter before the courts.
“We will wait and see the outcome, and thereafter chart the way forward. However, dissolving parliament is not what I would like to do, but it is an option put forward by the CJ,” he said.
President Kenyatta also said that the Sh180 billion Ruroni-Naivasha road agreement he had witnessed will be the new model he will be pushing for in a bid to avoid pushing the country’s debt levels higher.
“This is the first infrastructure project that is road-related done by private sector, who will develop this road on a concession basis. What Kenya and France are doing is developing a new model that does not involve debt but allowing private sector to invest in our projects. This new model of financing is something I am key to see, as it helps us reduce the debt burden,” he said.
US drone strikes
He also denied claims that the United States had sought permission from his government to authorise drone strikes within Kenyan territory, saying no such request has ever been made.
“We do not have any such authorisation for the US drone strikes on terror bases in Kenya. We are not at that level of having terror bases in Kenya and therefore the US has not even requested for authority to do so. We would not accept it because we do not feel it is necessary,” he said.
The president’s refutation is the first time the government is officially responding to claims first reported by the New York Times last month.
The Times had indicated that Pentagon was considering expanding the drone war on terror onto Kenyan soil in what could potentially raise human rights issues the superpower is already facing in Somalia.
With at least three drone strikes a month in the Horn country, the US government has also been accused by rights groups of killing civilians not linked to terror merchants. The Pentagon, however, has argued that its strikes are done with precision and last year launched a public portal to accept and investigate complaints of stray strikes.
Mr Kenyatta on Somalia exit
Mr Kenyatta also declined to give a timetable for the exit of Kenya Defence Forces troops from Somalia.
KDF is currently a part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) force.
He said Kenya will continue to work with partners until they all agree that the threat of Al-Shabaab has been decimated.