Kenyan leader's move to quell diversionary succession debate lauded

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-03 00:53:25|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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NAIROBI, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- President Uhuru Kenyatta has moved to shut political debate on his succession, with analysts noting ending the discussion would give him space to deliver his campaign promises.

Kenyatta, who is serving his second and final time, on Thursday told off leaders engaging in early 2022 campaigns and those pushing for him to have a role after he retires.

"Kenya held two elections in 2017, people are tired of continuous politics. What they want are development and services. Sit down and work," Kenyatta told leaders in Nyeri.

"Some people think that I am not engaging in politics because I'm serving my last term. When the right time comes, I will have a word to say on my successor," Kenyatta said.

Debate, spearheaded by leaders from his central Kenya backyard, has been raging in the last weeks on what role the president should play after 2022 polls.

Some leaders have suggested that the constitution be changed so that he becomes a prime minister. Others have been pushing him to name his deputy president as his preferred successor.

This debate, according to Kenyatta, is derailing his development agenda as he seeks to leave a legacy in 2022.

Having made peace with opposition leader Raila Odinga following divisive polls in 2017, Kenyatta has focused on his Big Agenda Four, which he announced soon after his re-election. The agenda focuses on provision of universal health, housing, food security and manufacturing.

William Kabogo, a former governor and a ruling Jubilee party politician, reckoned that politicians engaging in succession politics are keen on derailing Kenyatta.

"That agenda on Kenyatta taking up position after 2022 is inconsequential as he has said he would retire after his second term in office," he said.

Opposition Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr believes those calling for role of Kenyatta post 2022 are pushing for constitutional changes.

"It is good the president has refused this overtures and let him create a legacy by leaving power after his term," he said.

Jared Okello, a political analyst noted that Kenyatta is barely one year into his second term thus debate on his successor is premature.

"Talk of succession is diversionary and uncalled for. It should end as he directed," he said.

Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, noted that the scolding of leaders by Kenyatta was timely.

"The president has been quiet for some time as the debate rages and it was time to assert his authority and extinguish it. The talk was raising political temperatures in the country," he said.

He observed that succession politics is very emotive. Therefore, it may fuel ethnic tensions.

"Kenya is a highly ethnicized country and this debate was pushing the president into a corner. Those leaders who were asking him to have a role after his retirement may fuel tension in areas where his deputy come from as that may mean they are keen to shortchange the heir apparent," he said.

But Wandera noted the debate would not end. "It would go under for weeks and then resurface as it happened before," he said.