MPs reject bid to set age limit for presidential contenders
A group of MPs has dismissed a petition seeking to set the age limit for presidential candidates.
Mr Mohamed Mohamud, a resident of Garissa County, has filed the petition in the National Assembly for the Constitution to be amended to cap the age of presidential candidates at 70 years.
The petition, if successful, could lock out ODM leader Raila Odinga from the 2022 race, if he intends to run.
It is based on the principle that there is a retirement age for State officers, including those in the Judiciary and independent commissions, but none for the political class.
“This has led to the recycling of leaders who are unwilling to surrender power to a younger generation,” Mr Mohamud, who questions the effectiveness of Septuagenarians in discharging national duties, argues.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi on Tuesday directed the Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs to consider the petition and file a report in the House in the next 60 days.
However, some MPs have criticised the petition, pointing out that it violates the non-discrimination stance enshrined in the Constitution.
They argue that laws should not be made with an individual in mind but for posterity.
They have also questioned the procedure used to bring the petition to Parliament.
Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said the petition had been brought to the House in bad faith as part of a scheme to bar Mr Odinga from the presidential contest.
“It is obvious Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka are the targets. They are the only politicians in that age bracket,” Mr Kilonzo Jnr said, describing the proposals in the petition as unconstitutional.
Mr Odinga, 73, has contested the presidential election four times and lost in all.
Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka is 65, and will be eligible to contest in 2022 presidential election as he will be 69.
President Kenyatta is 57 and he is serving his second and final term in office.
Deputy President William Ruto is 51, Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi is 57 while Ford-Kenya boss Moses Wetang’ula is 56.
Mr Kilonzo Jnr argued that since the Constitution provides the lower age, it would be unconstitutional to set a ceiling at 70 years.
Minority Whip Junet Mohamed described the petition as unconstitutional.
“The constitutional does not set the age limit and there is no way one’s inherent constitutional rights can be curtailed through statutory laws,” said the Suna East MP.
National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi claimed the petitioner is being used by other forces.
“Wisdom and experiences come with age and what I know is that age humbles leaders,” he said.
Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya said Mr Mohamud is not properly advised.
“It is against the spirit of the Bomas process, which informed the writing of the new Constitution.
“It revised age 35, which was the lower limit that one should have attained before contesting. You cannot just bar people from contesting on the account of age. It is within the bill of rights,” he said.
Nominated MP David Sankok however said he would support the petition.