BBI DEBATE

An elected president could be ceremonial

Is that what pro-Ruto people want? They should wait for the final BBI proposals

In Summary

• Austria and Ireland have popularly elected Presidents who are largely ceremonial without executive powers.

• Kenyans would not want to see devolution watered down or term limits removed for governors.

President Uhuru Kenyatta reads the BBI report
BBI: President Uhuru Kenyatta reads the BBI report
Image: PSCU

The BBI wars continue. Now pro-Ruto politicians are declaring that they will oppose any proposals that undermine the power of the people (see P7).

Specifically, they oppose watering down of devolution, removal of term limits for governors, and not having an elected President. Few Kenyans would disagree with the first two positions.

But not having an elected President is more complicated. Presumably, the MPs want an executive President elected by the people rather than an executive Prime Minister chosen by MPs.

However countries such as Ireland and Austria have a weak elected ceremonial President with a powerful executive Prime Minister picked by Parliament. Electing a purely ceremonial President might not satisfy the Tangatanga MPs.

It is premature to go to war over BBI when we do not yet know the final proposals. If it is an executive President with a powerful PM, that is not a big change from today. If it is an executive PM with a ceremonial President, that would be revolutionary.

Let's wait until we know the final BBI proposals before we engage in a bitter and divisive debate over Kenya's constitutional future.

Quote of the day: "I don’t lead terrorists. I lead Africans who want self-government and their land."

Dedan Kimathi 
The colonial government executed the Kenyan rebel leader on February 18, 1957.