Presidential term limits have always been debated in Africa. In the past and the present, the politics of presidential term limits have resulted in raging wars between the incumbent president seeking re-election for another presidential term and political opponents, who often threaten against abuse of democracy. Kenya, a country characterized by multipartism and a democratic state, has always been in such a predicament.
It was not until 1992, through constitutional reforms, that Kenya introduced two-term presidential term limits.
This was after President Moi had repealed section 2A of the Kenyan constitution, thus making Kenya a multi-party state. The multi-party state meant that multiple political parties could now run for national elections, making it possible to have more than one presidential candidate seeking the coveted office.
Speaking at the African Union HQs in 2015, the former President of the United States, President Obama, reiterated the benefits of presidential term limits. The introduction of Kenya to become a multi-party state was a move to promote democracy and assert good governance.
Benefits of the Presidential Terms Limits
Presidential term limits are a prerequisite for good governance. The people of Kenya directly elect the president through the ballot. His is, therefore, a social contract between the president’s office and the people of Kenya, who, by electing their leader, can shape and play a vital role in the governance process.
The presidential term limits bar power-hungry politicians from abusing office and having a lengthy stay in power. The democracy of Kenya’s presidential term limits works under the premise of evenly rotating power so that all Kenyan people can experience the presidency. This helps to keep off the country from falling into the cusps of dictatorship.
The presidential term limits in Kenya permit an elected president to be reelected for one term. An elected president can stay in the office for two terms, usually a period lasting five years, since Kenya’s general elections take place every 5 years.
To be elected as the president of Kenya is like applying for a full-time job. To qualify for such a position, one must meet the bare minimum requirements stipulated in the Kenyan constitution (2010).
Qualifications and Disqualifications for Elections as the President of Kenya
To be a presidential candidate, you must be a Kenyan citizen by birth and be qualified to run for a Member of Parliament seat. A political party can nominate you if you have one.
However, if you don’t have a political party, you can submit your candidacy as an independent candidate. More than two thousand voters must nominate you from each major county. In both scenarios, you must be 18 and above. Though the law doesn’t clearly state the maximum age requirement, the presidential candidate must be of sound mind.
On the other end, you risk disqualification from election as the president of Kenya when you owe allegiance to a foreign state or, by nature, hold a public office. If you were to seek elections as the president of Kenya, one of the requirements is to resign from your public office.
If perhaps you qualify for the elections, and you get to be the president of Kenya, there could be circumstances that may not make you not complete your term in office. When the president of Kenya can no longer perform his duties to the people of Kenya, the president’s office is declared vacant.
Circumstances Under Which the Office of the President Is Declared Vacant.
The president’s office will be declared vacant if the president resigns in writing from the office, dies, or has been impeached. For a president to resign, he will address his resignation letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly.
When such vacancies occur in the president’s office, the Deputy President shall assume office for the remainder of the term. Suppose both of the offices (President and Deputy) are declared vacant. The Speaker of the National Assembly shall assume the president’s office, and an election shall be held 60 days after the vacancy arises.
In summary, the people of Kenya introduced the presidential term limit in 1992, and it was geared to block the sitting president from seeking reelection past the term limit. However, a presidential candidate, who has never been elected to office, is allowed to run for president the number of times he wants. You just have to meet the requirements.