Ruto, Gachagua away on official duties, who is running the country?

While the President is scheduled to attend the 78th UN General Assembly from September 19 after meeting tech giants in the US, his Deputy Gachagua is expected to attend the G77 Summit in Colombia from September 14 to 16.

Back home this means that there is a leadership vacuum in the absence of the President and his Deputy.

Since President Ruto took the oath of office, there has been no scenario in which the President and his deputy have been out of the country at the same time.

In situations where the President has been on foreign trips, Gachagua has been in charge.

But this time it’s different, both are out of the country on official duty.

“The constitution is interesting it says in the absence of the President the Deputy President shall act as President it does not say that the Speaker of the National Assembly acts as the President. That a very interesting Lacuna because God Forbid of the President were to pass on or the deputy then the expectation of the constitution would be that there is a line of succession. The line of succession is not a line of absenture,” Political Analyst Mark Bichachi says.

In 2014 Fourth President Uhuru Kenyatta handed over power to his then Deputy William Ruto by appending his signature to a decree. He surrendered the power to attend court at the Hague.

The transfer of power was dramatic with the president arriving at parliament to a guard of honour and the National Anthem and leaving his office at Harambee House without the usual ceremony of a Presidential escort.

In 2017 during the Launch of the Standard Gauge Railway from Nairobi to Mombasa then Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi was reportedly restricted by security agencies from leaving.

The Parliament precincts until the Train which had the 4th President Uhuru Kenyatta and the then Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on board arrived in Nairobi.

Constitutionally the Speaker of the National Assembly is third in the pecking order.

The absence of the President and his Deputy raises questions on crucial security decisions and more so in the event of a crisis.

“You’ve got to ask yourself whether he is getting the briefs he usually gets I would imagine given the technology we have he is getting but there is the security aspect of both of them being outside the country and whether the President can make legal decisions or command the army if we are attacked,” Bichachi says.

Until the President or his Deputy Return to the country the Centre of Power in the country is not elaborated in law with no official transfer of power to the Speaker of the National Assembly.

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