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Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah vouches for devolved presidency

Busia Senator Andrew Omtatah has proposed an amendment to the Kenyan Constitution to devolve the presidency.

The senator, who doubles up as an activist, argues the only way to end tribal dominance in the highest office in Kenya is to amend Article 138 of the constitution so that the 47 counties elect the president, just like in the US where the popular votes of the States decide the winner.

“Each county would be allocated the number of electoral points equal to the number of constituencies it has, plus one extra point to emphasise that all counties are equal. We have 290 constituencies + 47 counties totalling 337 electoral points,” said Omtatah.

He wants the inadvertent provision in the law for ethnic mobilisation of the national electorate in presidential elections to be removed.

“There is an urgent need to fully devolve the presidency to the 47 counties, just as the American founding fathers devolved their presidency to all the states that make up the United States of America,” Omtatah said in a series of tweets on Monday.

The Senator added that it is only by ensuring that a President is elected by a popular vote that is weighted at the county level and not at the national level that the stranglehold on national politics, as is currently the case, can be avoided.

According to him, if the article is amended, a presidential candidate would have to win the popular vote in the number of counties required to obtain at least 169 electoral votes (which is more than half (or 50% + 1) of the votes).

He says that the country’s five major tribes, which dominate national politics because of their large populations, are reduced in size because significant members of the five tribes are minorities in other districts.

In this case, the senator says, the tribes only become significant when counted at the national level.

“When counted at the county level, even Lamu County with only two constituencies would have three significant electoral points which, though not enough to produce a president, can prevent one from becoming president.”

“Therefore, Lamu will not be insignificant in the scheme of things, and those seeking the presidency will not flaunt the national sizes of their tribes in Lamu; they will tell Lamu their agenda for the county.”

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