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Proposals and reactions on extending the President’s term limit

By Wangu Kanuri September 25th, 2023 3 min read

In the span of one year, two lawmakers have publicly shared proposals to extend the presidential term limit.

These proposals, if implemented, could enable President William Ruto rule for up to two decades.

These propositions stand in stark contrast to the current stipulations outlined in Article 142 of the Kenyan Constitution.

As per the existing constitutional provisions, a president of Kenya is constrained to serving only two terms, each spanning five years. Essentially, a president could only helm the nation for a maximum of ten years, provided they are re-elected after the conclusion of the first term.

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Thus, the implementation of such proposals would necessitate substantial amendments to the entrenched constitutional provisions governing presidential term limits.

Here are the proposals and reactions to the extension of the presidential term limit;

First proposal

Barely two months post President Ruto’s inauguration, Fafi MP Salah Yakub disclosed that there were deliberations within the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) to present a constitutional amendment bill. This proposed amendment aims to replace the current two-term limit for the presidency with an age limit – 75 years.

According to him, if a president is delivering efficiently, a ten-year term limit should not restrict him or her. “We want to tell Kenyans that the limit on two terms should be relooked. We want it to be changed to an age limit where when one gets to 75 years, then he or she cannot contest,” the MP said at a political rally in Garissa, Northern Kenya.

Should this proposal gain acceptance, it would pave the way for President Ruto to remain in power for an additional 20 years.

Second proposal

Just last week, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei submitted a memorandum to the National Dialogue Committee advocating for an amendment to the Constitution. His proposal was to prolong the presidential term limit in Kenya from the current five years to seven, aiming to have this in place before the 2027 general elections.

Cherargei’s argument centers around the notion that a term of merely five years does not provide sufficient time to establish effective governance and assemble a proficient team to execute the manifesto.

Should his proposition be realized, it would mean that a newly elected president could potentially hold office for a seven-year term, with an option for re-election to one additional seven-year term. This adjustment would bring about significant alterations to the prevailing presidential term structure in the nation.


President William Ruto

The proposal to extend the presidential term limit first sparked widespread attention and discussion, but President Ruto promptly dismissed the idea, strongly advising legislators against eliminating presidential term limits from the constitution.

In a meeting with legislators from the ruling United Democratic Alliance, Dr Ruto urged them to concentrate on legislating laws with the potential to enhance the well-being and lives of Kenyan citizens, rather than focusing on extending presidential terms.

“You were elected to serve the people; their issues must come first. As President, I won’t participate in efforts aimed at mutilating the Constitution for parochial, selfish, and personal interests,” he said.

Senate Majority Party whip

Kakamega Senator and the Senate Majority Whip, Boni Khalwale, has labeled Cherargei’s endeavor to extend the presidential term limit as ‘absolute nonsense.’

He remarked that the 2010 constitution, which confines the presidential term to five years, was the culmination of extensive and meticulous deliberations, implying a significant level of consensus and consideration in its formation.

“This is absolute nonsense and I want to advise Kenyans to be wary of people like Cherargei who have no idea where these statements come from and have just stumbled into high office. The new constitution came after many years of deliberations on the pros and cons of term limits,” he stated.

Ugenya MP

Ugenya MP David Ochieng has expressed firm opinions on the push for extending presidential term limits, stating unequivocally that any such initiatives, whether emanating from the governing party Kenya Kwanza or the opposition, are doomed from the outset— ‘dead on arrival.’

He elaborated that even engaging in discussions surrounding term extensions brings back memories of the country’s tumultuous past. Mr Ochieng contended that proponents of such extensions are essentially individuals who are lazy and show no genuine interest in improving the living conditions and prospects of the Kenyan people.

“The push for extra years in President Ruto’s term limit is dead on arrival; we will not entertain it. Anyone who imagines that the Constitution can be changed willy-nilly because their kingsman is in power should think twice,” he said.