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Sonko could face death sentence for ‘acting president’ remark

Police on Monday said they had questioned Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko on his “acting president” remark, setting the stage for what some lawyers say could lead to treason charges against the flamboyant legislator.

On Friday, Mr Sonko declared himself “acting president of the Republic of Kenya” at the burial of former Kathiani MP Wavinya Ndeti’s husband.

If found guilty, the only punishment for the offence provided in law is the death sentence.

On Monday, Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet told the Nation that the senator had recorded a statement. He said the file would soon be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko for action.

Legal experts are divided on the punishment that should be meted out on the senator, with Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi leading the pack that believes he should be charged with treason.


However, law scholar Makau Mutua, who was recently interviewed for the post of Chief Justice, and Law Society of Kenya Nairobi branch chairman Charles Kanjama said Mr Sonko only made “harmless” remarks and did not actually intend to see through with what he said.

Section 40 of the Penal Code defines treason as the act of imagining, devising, compassing or intending to depose the President from his position, honour and name, or its publishing or writing by an overt act or deed.

The senator’s remarks have since escalated, with Mr Tobiko ordering Mr Boinnet to investigate.
Acting president

“President Uhuru is in Togo; Deputy President William Ruto is in France. I am Number Three in command, politically, influence-wise and socially. I am now the acting president of the Republic of Kenya,” Mr Sonko told mourners in an address captured on video by various media houses and which has been circulating online.

At the time, Deputy President William Ruto was in the country.

But even if Mr Ruto were away, the constitutional hierarchy places the Speaker of the National Assembly as the third in command after the President and the DP.

The current holder of that office, Mr Justin Muturi, was also in the country then.