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April 24, 2018

Why Uhuru, Ruto failed to name full Cabinet after daylong wait

 Deputy President  William Ruto with CS Water Eugene Wamalwa during Food security meeting  at DPs office in Karen.Photo Charles Kimani
Deputy President William Ruto with CS Water Eugene Wamalwa during Food security meeting at DPs office in Karen.Photo Charles Kimani

Disagreement between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto delayed announcement of the full Cabinet last Wednesday, the Star has learnt.

Contention over composition of the 22-member Cabinet forced State House to call off the much-awaited national briefing at the eleventh hour.

Uhuru was expected to name the remaining 13 Cabinet Secretaries.

In a clear indication that a major announcement was in the cards, national broadcaster KBC had set up equipment and was ready to air the event live from State House at 5pm.

The President was at State House and was joined by Ruto, arriving at 4pm from his Karen office.

But Ruto left at 7pm without any announcement. The next morning, on Thursday, the President flew to South Africa on a three-day official visit, leaving behind an expectant nation.

On January 5 Uhuru had named six CSs and nominated three others for vetting in a live announcement from State House.

The DP was conspicuously absent and analysts and inside sources said there was a simmering tug of war over nominees.

Yesterday Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru defended the two Jubilee principals, saying there was no rift.

She cited “sideshows, rumours and speculation ... Those still in campaigns should heed the President’s advice that it’s time to work and fulfil development pledges. All other sideshows have been bypassed by time,” she said.

Both Uhuru and Ruto have played down any split.

However, the Star has established that inclusion or exclusion of certain individuals from the Cabinet is behind the stalemate.

Uhuru is understood to have refused to bring on board Ruto’s key allies, considered critical to his succession game plan.

Some of the contested names include former Agriculture CS Davis Chirchir, former Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba and former Investments Secretary and the late Nicholas Biwott’s daughter Esther Koimett.

“There’s a stalemate. We are waiting to see how it goes after the President promised to name the remaining Cabinet in two weeks. Seven days have gone by,” a top official at the DP’s office said.

The Star established that Ruto’s camp also flatly rejected up to four politicians the President was considering from NASA leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, and KNCCI chairman Kiprono Kittony.

Ruto’s faction is said to have stood its ground, insisting the President should allow the DP the upper hand in nominating CSs outside Uhuru’s Mt Kenya turf.

Uhuru is said to have shot down Chirchir, Namwamba and others proposed by Ruto on grounds of integrity, experience, regional balance and qualification.

Chirchir left the Cabinet after his name appeared on the infamous “list of shame” presented by Uhuru to Parliament in March 2015.

Despite the court later clearing him of wrongdoing, he was never reinstated. Chirchir made his comeback in the Jubilee campaign team as one of the key strategists and the chief agent of the August 8 presidential election.

The Ruto camp read malice in Uhuru’s single-sourcing of nominees from other regions, claiming it would injure the DP’s succession plans for the 2022 polls.

Uhuru’s camp believes nominating individuals from regions with low Jubilee support will endear him to the people, hence, they can be used as a springboard to the next polls.

Ruto believes the five former politicians are too close to Raila, while others are “too independent and/or close to the Baringo Senator Gideon Moi,” one source said.

The stalemate, sources told the Star, is likely to end in compromises when the full Cabinet is named.

On Thursday, the Star exclusively reported Uhuru was considering up to five leaders from Nyanza for CSs.

Topping the list were former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and Raila’s cousin and former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo.

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