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Why Uhuru-Ruto can’t agree on cabinet reshuffle

The government has denied claims of a rift between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto over reports of a planned Cabinet reshuffle.

Multiple sources, however, said the fate of two cabinet secretaries was at the heart of the reshuffle deadlock: Agriculture’s Felix Koskei and Ms Anne Waiguru of Devolution and Planning Ministry.

Also in dispute, according to the sources, are the replacements for three CSs that Mr Kenyatta would not have minded to drop: Mr Michael Kamau (Transport), Ms Charity Ngilu (Lands) and Mr Kazungu Kambi (Labour).

SPECIAL MEETING

Panic was evident in Cabinet secretaries on Friday when the President summoned them to a special meeting at State House.

Two CSs who spoke out on the matter said they were not sure if they would retain their dockets.

“We don’t know where we will land. We’ll know during the meeting,” said one CS who is acting for a suspended colleague.

On Monday, State House and Mr Ruto’s spin-doctors were keen to send the message that the President and his deputy were on good terms.

“No reshuffle had been planned. Neither the President nor Mr Ruto has any intention of announcing such changes,” said State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu.

Sources close to Mr Ruto were eager to paint a picture of Mr Koskei having got into trouble for burning two millions bags of contraband sugar in April last year.

POWERFUL FORCES

According to the sources, Mr Koskei supervised the destruction of the sugar at Coast Clay Works kilns, something that angered powerful forces.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions have cleared Mr Koskei and his Energy counterpart Davis Chirchir of corruption allegations.

The sources said Mr Ruto wants Mr Koskei reinstated and the Devolution ministry split.

Speculation was rife that the reshuffle was to take place on Tuesday but was pushed to Friday, then Sunday.

It has also been speculated that the special Cabinet meeting called on Friday was to be used by Mr Kenyatta to brief the Cabinet secretaries about their new postings. The meeting discussed the teachers’ strike.

IGNORE RUMOURS

Kericho Senator Charles Keter, a close ally of Mr Ruto, denied reports of bad blood between the two.
“The President and his deputy work very closely. Ignore the rumours,” he said.

Mr Ruto’s spokesman Emmanuel Talam also maintained the same line. He said the DP had nothing to do with appointments to the cabinet.

“The Cabinet secretaries were appointed by the President, suspended by the President and will be reinstated by the President,” said Mr Talam.

Mr Esipisu said Mr Ruto spent most of Saturday evening and Sunday morning chairing a meeting that drafted the statement on the teachers’ strike read by President Kenyatta on Sunday night.