By P Opondo
So a constitutional amendment bill has been drafted that seeks to create a pure parliamentary system with an executive PM as the head of government with a ceremonial president as the head of state in Kenya.
Here are my initial thoughts on proposal by Tiaty MP Kassait Kamket of Jubilee party. This could turn out to be one of the biggest political stories over the next 5 years with long term implications.
First, the choice of the MP to move the motion was strategic, a Jubilee MP from Rift Valley, DP William Ruto’s backyard. Had this come from say, Ngunjiri Wambugu or Moses Kuria, it would have been received with some heavy dose of hostility!
The scenarios have been worked out: Uhuru is too “young” to retire. He will be 61 yrs in 2022. But he will still be leader of Jubilee party. So as not to disturb the current equation and arrangement, why not have Ruto (who will be 56 in 2022) run for the presidency while Uhuru remains the Jubilee party leader? Once Ruto wins (presidency), Uhuru as the leader of majority party in Parliament becomes executive PM and forms government while maintaining executive control. Ruto is ceremonial president but he is still the titular head of state! Proponents of this school of thought would argue that the DP has time on his side and would throw in a sweetener like “after 5 years, the PM ( Uhuru) will vacate the seat and endorse the president (Ruto) to take over”
Question is; will Ruto agree to such an arrangement where he is essentially being told to accept another stint of Uhuru “presidency” beyond 2022? What if he bolts from Jubilee?
Were this to happen (Ruto bolting) who can Uhuru partner with to ensure he still becomes PM? Mudavadi? Gideon? Kalonzo? Raila? All of them? He won’t be short of options, for sure.
On the flipside, were Ruto to form an alliance with Raila (Who will be 78) in 2022 so that Raila becomes the president while Ruto becomes the executive PM? Would that realistically suit the interest of both parties? Just think about it. Remember it is all about interests.
These are just some of the scenarios. But you begin to see the picture emerge of a changing political landscape. One thing you can take to the bank is that this constitutional amendment bill is likely to carry the day because it serves the interests of all the key players at the moment, esp Kalonzo, Mudavadi, Gideon and even Raila. I don’t see them accepting to remain in the politicaI cold for another term, so their predisposition will be to deal.
As for Odinga, this could prove a lifeline. Partnering with either Ruto or Kenyatta (or even his current Nasa co-principals) would easily hand him a ticket to the presidency.
It is all up in the air for now and this could as well turn out to be a figment of my febrile imagination….but as you know, sometimes life ensues from such imaginations, ha!