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Kenyan President Reshuffles Cabinet


Kenya’s president Mwai Kibaki has re-appointed two of his former cabinet ministers who were allegedly involved in various forms of corrupt activities. The move is part of Kibaki’s cabinet reshuffle that saw the appointment of nine new deputy ministers and the transfer of two others. According to sources, the President gave no explanation for the restoration.

Emmanuel Jumah is news editor for Kenya’s Nation television. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the cabinet reshuffle.

“President Kibaki has decided to re-appoint Kiraitu Murungi, who by the time he left cabinet was the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, and Professor George Saitoti, who by the time he left cabinet was the Minister for Education. Of course it was a development that has surprised many people, not that people didn’t expect it. But whereas pundits had expected it would happen, many didn’t expect it at this time,” he noted.

Jumah says President Kibaki may be sending a message, since it’s less than a year until the country’s tripartite elections.

“Many thought maybe the President has decided with less than a year to go for the elections, and the fact that these people have been mentioned in various scandals or issues here and there, he decided to leave them out. But again he decided to go ahead, and maybe in this time of day and politics, there are no permanent enemies. Yes, he has decided to re-appoint the two back to cabinet,” Jumah said.

Jumah says many Kenyans are still pondering why President Kibaki did not give an explanation for reshuffling his ministers.

“There was absolutely no explanation whatsoever from the President. There was a statement that came in from statehouse that was sent to people by email. Others received it by fax. The President did not explain anything but observers are quick to read a lot into that,” he said.

Jumah says it will take Kenyans some time to make sense out of the President’s cabinet moves in light of the high profile scandals associated with his two ministers.

“They are saying look, the President may have appointed Saitoti because the guy went to court over this Goldenberg matter, which has been weighing heavily on him, and the court ruled that he doesn’t have any case to answer…As for Kiraitu, he may be saying that he was never caught red-handed, and he was never involved directly in the Anglo leasing scandal. Maybe that is the statement that the President is making by appointing the two gentlemen back into cabinet,” he said.

Jumah says a majority of Kenyans have been saying the President has the right to reshuffle his cabinet as he deems fit.

“Surprisingly may are actually saying really, it’s his prerogative if he decides to appoint the gentlemen back into his cabinet. That is his problem. Many television bulletins that were carried this evening were asking whether the President has made the right decision to re-appoint these two guys into cabinet. And the answers seem to be like 60% say no, it was not the right decision and only 40% say he has done the right thing because it is his prerogative,” he said.

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