Will retired President Kenyatta abstain from politics?

Yesterday, September 13, President Uhuru Kenyatta handed over power to his Deputy Dr William Ruto in a colourful event at Kasarani Stadium.

There are a lot of speculations regarding retired President Kenyatta’s next move, with many wondering out loud whether the fourth head of state will abstain from active participation in politics.

Both Jubilee Party Chairman David Murathe and Nyeri Town Member of Parliament Ngunjiri Wambugu have in the past stated that the former head of state would remain in politics.

In February, National Delegates Conference (NDC), the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Jubilee Party announced that retired President Kenyatta will continue to serve as the party leader for a period of five years until 2027.

He also was gazetted as the Chairman of the  Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya Council in April this year.

Another indicator of the president’s next card is the budget estimates released in April 2022, which did not allocate any funds to cater for the gratuity and other retirement benefits for a retired president according to the law as found in the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act (2003).

The same law, however, clarifies the circumstances under which benefits may not be paid. One of them is that a retired president should not be involved in, or actively engaged in the activities of any political party beyond six months after retirement contrary to the provisions of section 6(1).

Treasury will write President Uhuru Kenyatta a KSh. 39.6 million cheque in tax-free lump sum payment for serving as Head of State for nine years.

As a retired president, the law says Uhuru Kenyatta will be eligible for a pension of over KSh.1,152,000 per month. He would also receive monthly entertainment and fuel allowance at the rate of KSh.216,000 each. He will also receive a house allowance at the rate of KSh.331,200 per month.

As a retired president, he will receive a fully funded furnished office and government remunerated staff as stipulated under the law.

However, the National Treasury omitted this allocation for his retirement office from the budget for the FY2022/23, which remains the clearest move yet by Uhuru Kenyatta to remain active in party politics beyond the stipulated six months.

While addressing the media last week, Uhuru confirmed he will hand over power but in a private meeting with Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition MPs he said, “Raila is my president,”  the clearest move of defiance yet.

But perhaps the clearest painting of Uhuru’s future is his acceptance to serve as the Chairperson of Kenya’s peace envoy in the region. Yesterday, President Ruto tasked his predecessor, former President Uhuru Kenyatta to be in charge of the peace initiatives that Kenya has been undertaking across the region.

“On the peace initiatives in our region including both in Ethiopia and Great Lakes Region, I have asked my elder brother President Uhuru Kenyatta who has done commendable engagement with those regions and he has graciously agreed to continue chairing those discussions on behalf of the people of Kenya,” said Ruto.

Whether the president retires or not, is his prerogative but with the hefty retirement package, Kenyans will undoubtedly raise questions about his participation.

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