Nairobi Star: Kibaki may defend Othaya's MP seat in 2012, says Jimmy Kibaki

PRESIDENT Kibaki may remain as the MP for Othaya even after relinquishing the Presidency in 2012, his eldest son Jimi Kibaki has said.

He said nothing prohibits his father from standing again for the Othaya seat that he has held since 1974.

"Mzee might not retire as an MP. He might retire only as a President. The constitution allows him to seek another term as a Member of Parliament," said Jimi speaking at a harambee in aid of Our Lady of Consolata Birithia Catholic Church in Othaya on Sunday.

There has been widespread speculation that Jimi could succeed his father in Othaya because he has recently been making frequent visits and presided over several functions and fundraisings.

Jimi also launched the political youth movement Simama Kenya earlier this year.

PNU activist Mary Wambui, once rumoured to be the second wife of the President — but which the First Family has emphatically denied on many occasions — is understood to also be interested in the Othaya seat. Analysts say she could mount a strong challenge to Jimi as she is popular in the coffee-growing constituency.

If Kibaki senior decides to defend his Othaya seat after serving his maximum two five-year terms as head of state, he will be the first President in Kenya to do so.

The founding President Jomo Kenyatta died in office in 1978 while President Daniel arap Moi chose to retire from active politics after serving his two five-year terms that ended in 2002.

The constitution does not bar Kibaki from becoming Prime Minister should he become the leader of a party with a majority in the House in 2012.

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ethiopia's Meles Zenawi both switched from President to Prime Minister in recent years.

The Star could not identify any case of an African president standing down to become a mere MP.

Kibaki entered elective politics in 1963 by contesting the Donholm constituency in Nairobi Province that he won on a Kanu ticket. He shifted base to Othaya in 1974.

But Kibaki risks missing the entitlements of a retired head of state that are enshrined in the Presidential Retirements Benefits Act of 2003 if he chooses to remain as an MP.

The Act stipulates that the benefits cannot be paid if a retired president is "actively engaged in activities of any political party and if the retired president "holds any appointive or elective post in or under the Government."

A retiring president receives a Sh17 million lump sum payment as a goodbye token. He then gets Sh950,000 tax-free monthly, which is 80 percent of the salary of the sitting president. A retired president is also given Sh300,000 monthly housing allowance, Sh300,000 as electricity, water and telephone allowances, and Sh200,000 as entertainment allowance.

He will be provided with 38 public servants including 6 officers for his own personal security and 6 others to guard his Muthaiga and Othaya homes. He will be given 4 four-wheel drive vehicles.

Jimi has been touted as a possible candidate to take over the Othaya seat after Kibaki's retirement.

He launched the youth initiative Simama Kenya in June together with ODM-Kenya MPs Kiema Kilonzo and Charles Kilonzo indicating that he has political ambitions.

Jimi lashed out at those already campaigning for the Othaya seat in 2012 saying the race is not a 100 metres but a marathon.

"You will get tired in six months and elections are three years away," said Jimi. "You better hold your horses, the time has not come," he added.

Over 20 parliamentary aspirants including businessmen, lawyers and sitting civic leaders have already started criss-crossing the constituency in silent campaigns.

Jimi praised the work his father had done during his tenure as area MP saying he had brought more development than anybody else would have done.

He said aspirants interested in the seat have been spreading rumours that Othaya will be divided into six constituencies which he said was impossible.

"Why are they not competing on development instead of politicking all the time? I wish you would challenge them to bring developments instead of politics and mere rumours'.
"Tell them to hold their horses. Youths should not be used by politicians but should take responsibility for their lives," he told the congregation.

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