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Did Uhuru have hidden hand in recent Cabinet changes?

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Geza Ulole, Apr 2, 2012.

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    Geza Ulole JF-Expert Member

    Apr 2, 2012
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    [h=1]Did Uhuru have hidden hand in recent Cabinet changes?[/h] [​IMG] PHOTO/FILE Deputy Prime Minster Uhuru Kenyatta (left) with William Ruto (right) during a prayer rally in Ruiru on February 17, 2012. Those who claim Mr Kenyatta played a key role in the reshuffle identify the International Criminal Court process and the Kibaki succession as the key factors that may have contributed to the DPM’s involvement in the President’s decision.
    By OLIVER MATHENGE omathenge@ke.nationmedia.com
    Posted Saturday, March 31 2012 at 22:30

    As the dust settles on this week’s Cabinet reshuffle, there is growing suspicion that Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta played a role in the changes President Kibaki made on his side of the government.
    The gains made by Mr Kenyatta and his G7 allies call attention to the DPM’s growing influence in the running of President Kibaki’s administration as the Head of State serves his last year in office.
    It also appears that Mr Kenyatta has taken up the late John Michuki’s role as one of the President’s key advisers in central Kenya.
    There have been claims that the President consulted the DPM on the phone before making the changes in consultation with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, but the Sunday Nation could not independently confirm this.
    Those who claim Mr Kenyatta played a key role in the reshuffle identify the International Criminal Court process and the Kibaki succession as the key factors that may have contributed to the DPM’s involvement in the President’s decision.
    The reshuffle also put into perspective President Kibaki’s political end game as he retires.
    He appeared to take advantage of two vacancies on his side of the Cabinet – the Environment and Finance – to reward Mr Kenyatta’s allies.
    Asked to comment on his boss’ likely involvement in the recent appointments, Mr Kenyatta’s spokesman, Munyori Buku, laughed off the claim.
    “The appointing authority in matters Cabinet is President Mwai Kibaki. He consults the PM.
    “The matter is so black and white that there is no room for ambiguity. Those who say otherwise have the knack of the usual irritating irrelevance,” Mr Buku said.
    But, even with this strong denial, the new appointments appear skewed in Mr Kenyatta’s favour, especially when one considers the ICC baggage he carries.
    Two of his G7 allies landed key ministerial posts while another Kanu ally, Prof Sam Ongeri, was moved to the high profile Foreign Affairs docket.
    G7 member Eugene Wamalwa was appointed Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister to replace Mr Mutula Kilonzo who was moved to Education.
    Mr Kilonzo has been critical of Mr Kenyatta and his ICC co-accused, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, over their stand on the Hague-based court. (READ: Kilonzo transfer linked to his stand on ICC cases)
    He has been asking the government to cooperate with the ICC and further asked Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to drop their presidential ambitions and concentrate on clearing their names at the ICC.
    By virtue of his appointment, Mr Wamalwa has replaced Mr Kilonzo in the Cabinet sub-committee on the ICC while Prof Ongeri takes up his predecessor Moses Wetang’ula’s position in the same sub-committee.
    Mr Wetang’ula, who has a close association with Mr Raila Odinga’s side of the coalition, was moved to the less visible ministry of Trade.
    Tried locally
    A source close to one of the Ocampo Four, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday that he was aware of the government’s determination to have the cases tried locally. (READ: Ocampo Four face Kenya trial deadline)
    He added that the replacement of Mr Kilonzo with Mr Wamalwa was part of efforts to expedite the move by the government to try the cases locally.
    “The government is working towards trying the cases locally, and details will likely emerge in the next few weeks.
    “Mr Kilonzo was seen to be strong-willed on having the Ocampo Four proceed to The Hague and could easily frustrate such efforts. He could not be trusted to push for the move to have the cases go on locally,” he said.
    Prof Peter Kagwanja, who has been an adviser of the PNU side of government, said the perception that Mr Kenyatta was a key player in the reshuffle is likely due to the nature of the changes and the political landscape as Kenya heads to an election.
    “Reshuffling the Cabinet is the President’s domain but, down the years, reshuffles have invariably reflected the losers and winners in power tussles in palaces.
    In the previous reshuffle, the G7 lost and said it publicly, when Wetang’ula was reinstated to the Cabinet docket and Eugene was left out in the cold,” Prof Kagwanja told the Sunday Nation.
    Noting that the reshuffle appears aimed at consolidating the G7 Alliance, he said it could also be an opportunity for Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to be seen as kingmakers should they miss out on the ballot due to the ICC cases.
    “In the recent round, the G7 had a scoop, strategically calculated to deal with the ICC and to position itself for 2012/13 polls, especially in ODM strongholds in western Kenya and Kisii-Nyanza.
    “It is a masterstroke by Uhuru and Ruto in king-making and positioning themselves as the powers behind the throne, a skill they may hone with time,” Prof Kagwanja said.
    It is not lost on observers that central Kenya lost a ministerial position and donated it to Western, most likely to be used as a bait for political support.
    Some politicians from Kiambu – even close allies of Mr Kenyatta – are crying foul over the changes, arguing that the county was shortchanged by the President.
    They say someone should have been appointed to the Cabinet, especially after the DPM relinquished his Finance portfolio.
    “I am not the appointing authority, and I will not speculate on what happened during the reshuffle, but people living in Kiambu are very concerned about the region’s exclusion,” said assistant minister Lewis Nguyai.
    Political backing
    But some observers say Mr Kenyatta could have asked the President to have someone from outside central Kenya to consolidate his political backing ahead of the elections in which he has said he will be contesting the presidency.
    Political commentator Prof Larry Gumbe says this could be true, noting that if Mr Kenyatta was involved in the changes, he probably feels that he has Kiambu’s backing and should be looking outside for more support.
    “If UK (Uhuru Kenyatta) has a hand in the reshuffle, he seems to have the Kiambu vote at this stage and it makes sense to trade a Kiambu Cabinet seat for some Luhya votes,” Prof Gumbe told the Sunday Nation.
    Manage cases
    Ikolomani MP Bonni Khalwale argues that President Kibaki used the reshuffle to manage the two Kenyan cases at the ICC.
    “The President knew that he has an Attorney-General and a Chief Justice who are anti-Hague and felt that by naming Eugene Wamalwa to the Justice ministry, he will be able to manage the ICC process since he feels he can control him,” Mr Khalwale said.
    In the reshuffle, Mvita MP Najib Balala was dropped as Tourism minister and his position given to Voi MP Dan Mwazo.
    Another G7 member, Chirau Ali Mwakwere, who is allied to Eldoret North MP William Ruto, was moved from the Transport ministry to the Environment.
    Mr Njeru Githae, who was acting Finance minister, was confirmed to the position and his Metropolitan docket given to Mr Jamleck Kamau, the MP for Kigumo.
    Kisauni MP Ali Hassan Joho was appointed Transport assistant minister.

    Did Uhuru have hidden hand in recent Cabinet changes?  - Politics |nation.co.ke