WAINAINA: International community must reject state-propelled constitutional coup in Kenya

International Centre for Policy and Conflict Executive Director Ndung’u Wainaina at a media briefing at Stanley Hotel/ FILE


President Uhuru Kenyatta has taken Kenya political governance into a backward trajectory. It is precariously moving towards dictatorship. The country is dangerously plunging imminent authoritarianism.

The strongest signal is the state engineered and forced ‘constitutional moment’. The Building Bridges Initiative constitutional amendment is an unconstitutional manipulation and change of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. It is a state-propelled constitutional coup. A lesson from the past shows this is a red signal.

It is vital for the international community to collectively express disapproval loud and clear on anyone tinkering with and attempt at manipulating the Constitution to remain in power either directly or indirectly Vladimir Putin Style.

Constitutional modification is an abuse of power, and its authors are predators and usurpers. State impunity and abuse of state power should not be allowed to prevail. Further, it is crucial and urgent for the international community based in Nairobi and in different global arenas to open robust dialogue with all actors.

The political processes should not feed a sense of state impunity. On the contrary, they should strengthen the rule of law and democracy.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has shown he will use and abusive state powers of the Presidency to manipulate the Constitution, disregard the rule of law, and grossly undermine democratic institutions. This is a threat to stability and consolidation of Kenya’s nascent democracy. He must be stopped.

It is deeply disturbing that President Kenyatta is retiring within months but still aggressively engaged in acts of subverting and changing the Constitution through a forced process.  The Constitution of Kenya does not allow the President and or state to change the Constitution. This is because of past horrible experiences.

It is also vital to note he has brought the military out of the barracks and deployed in governance contrary to Constitution, law governing the military and oath of office. He has already ordered for extra 116 armoured vehicles for police. Uhuru desperately fought to secure a UNSC seat and appointed a key architect of the Constitutional coup, Martin Kimani to be Ambassador to the UN, to ensure his plot succeeds with little international pressure. This is very dangerous.

President Kenyatta should be preparing for democratic credible 2022 election and peacefully transition of power. Kenyans are desperate for survival, livelihood and revival of the economy but not dragging the country into baseless, callous and brutal constitutional change for sole personal benefits of the incumbent and his friends.

The people of Kenya must enjoy unfettered freedom of expression and dissent without state reprisals. State must stop deplorable selective practice of intimidating, arresting, and persecuting political opponents. President Kenyatta must not be allowed to return the country to the dark chapter of state repression and gross human rights violations. He must respect, uphold and abide by the Constitution and oath of office he took.

Ndung’u Wainaina is the Executive Director, International Center for Policy and Conflict, ICPC in Nairobi, Kenya

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