Opposition MPs have kicked off a silent but aggressive campaign to shoot down plans to change the law to limit the presidential age limit, a move they say targets former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s political ambitions.
The MPs and Senators from the moribund National Super Alliance (NASA), are actively lobbying legislators, especially those in Jubilee and support Raila’s peace deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta to help them block the move which is gaining momentum in some Jubilee strongholds.
The new campaign comes at a time when political temperatures are rising after a month of calm, following the rapprochement between Raila and the President.
Already, political differences between Raila and Deputy President William Ruto over a proposed constitutional change via a referendum has sparked tension and exchange of words between their supporters.
Ruto is opposed to the the constitutional change , saying it is meant to reward some leaders. He has attacked Raila, saying he was insincere in his political moves. In response pro-Raila MPs have described Ruto as Kenya’s worst enemy.
Raila had earlier indicated he was not keen on the 2022 presidency, saying he was busy on the “building bridges’ campaign with President Uhuru.
On Tuesday, the pro-Raila lawmakers raised the red flag over a petition seeking to cap the age limit for future presidential candidates, saying it was targeting aging politicians.
They claimed that the petition by Mr Mohammed Mohammud Sheikh of Wajir is trying to lock out former Prime Minister Raila Odinga from contesting the Presidency in 2022.
Although Mr Sheikh indicated he was acting alone, Opposition MPs and senators who spoke on Tuesday, insisted he was a smokescreen.
Already, the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has directed a House committee to consider the petition, review it within 60 days as from end of April and table it in House.
”We cannot take away the right of any Kenyan as specifically stated in the Constitution,” said Muturi when admitting it, even as the motion continued to attract opposition.
The MPs are lobbying their colleagues in a careful and focused move to block the proposed legislation to cap Presidential age limit at 70 years.
MPs Olago Aluoch (Kisumu West),Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), East),Rosa Buyu,(Kisumu Woman Rep), Gladys Wanga( Homa Bay Woman Rep), said age should not be an issue.
Others against the age limit are Bondo MP Gedion Ochanda, Shakeel Shabbir,(Kisumu East) Fred Ouda (Kisumu Central), Uriri MP Mark Nyamita and Rongo MP Paul Abuor.
The legislators termed the age limit plans as a ploy to block some aging politicians, albeit, without directly naming them from running for Presidency in 2022. Olago said: ”Age should not be an issue at all. What we need to do is to cap the Presidential term or tenure for individuals seeking to occupy the office.” .
Ochanda and Wanga claimed that laws are made for posterity but not for individuals. ”Term limits… Yes but age limits we say Big No,” said Olago who is also a lawyer.
Buyu said age is replete with experience. Shabbir said the laws shouldn’t target individuals.
Raila is now, 73, and has run for the presidential election four times and has claimed that he has been rigged out twice. Wiper party leader has Kalonzo Musyoka,65, who is eligible to run.
President Kenyatta is 57 and he is serving his second and final term in office, although recently Cotu Boss Francis Atwoli stoked debate when he claimed he was too young to retire.
Deputy President William Ruto is 51, while Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi is 57. Ford-Kenya boss Moses Wetang’ula is 56.