Kenya’s president dismisses suggestions of unlimited terms

Kenya's President William Ruto speaks at a flag-handover ceremony for members from the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), ahead of their future deployment to eastern Congo as part of the newly-created East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), at the Embakasi garrison in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Kenya is sending more than 900 military personnel to eastern Congo to join a new regional force trying to calm deadly tensions fueled by armed groups that have led to a diplomatic crisis between Congo and neighboring Rwanda. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan President William Ruto urged lawmakers not to remove presidential terms limits from the country’s constitution, dismissing comments by a legislator that there should be no such limits on a capable leader.

Kenya’s constitution says a president can only serve for two terms, and many Kenyans have been eager to hear Ruto’s position since talk of removing term limits started last week.

Ruto succeeded former president Uhuru Kenyatta after winning hotly contested elections. He was inaugurated in September.

Ruto’s party, the United Democratic Alliance, on Wednesday held a meeting of its lawmakers during which the president urged them to focus on laws that could improve the lives of ordinary Kenyans.

He asked them to stop “pushing for selfish and self-serving legislation like changing the Constitution to remove term limits,” according to local media outlets.

The ruling party’s chairperson, Johnstone Muthama, denied there was a plan to amend the constitution in favor of Ruto after heavy criticism from the opposition parties.

Kenya’s democracy has evolved over the years since the former British colony became independent in 1963. For several years it was a de-facto one-party state and then was officially a one-party state from 1982 until 1992, when multiparty democracy was adopted.

Term limits on the presidency are widely considered sacrosanct, contributing to the view of Kenya as a beacon of stability in the East African region. Many countries in the region and other parts of Africa have abolished presidential term limits, allowing leaders to stay in power for long periods.

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