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Friday, March 22, 2013

Uhuru Cabinet begins to take shape at retreat


Ex-ministers line up for slots in Jubilee Cabinet

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File | Nation African Union observer mission leader Joachim Chissano (centre), President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta (right), and Deputy President-elect William Ruto before the March 4 polls.
File | Nation African Union observer mission leader Joachim Chissano (centre), President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta (right), and Deputy President-elect William Ruto before the March 4 polls. 
By ISAAC ONGIRI iongiri@ke.nationmedia.com
Posted  Friday, March 22  2013 at  00:00
IN SUMMARY
  • President-elect and deputy have to balance between the need to bring in fresh faces, reward old political allies, infuse professionalism and consider regional and gender representation as they await Supreme Court verdict
  • Jubilee leaders holed up in Coast villa to discuss names and sharing of top posts
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Consultations on the formation of a new Cabinet are almost complete as President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to unveil his government, if the Supreme Court clears the way for his inauguration.
Mr Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, have been studying a new government format and portfolios at the Almanara Villa in Mombasa, where they have been holed up since last weekend as lobbying for the country’s coveted public jobs intensified.
Though insiders have reported an unwavering zeal for a Cabinet of fresh blood and professionals, a group of ambitious political friends of the two leaders who lost their seats in the March 4 elections now pose the biggest challenge for Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto.
The Nation established that due to a desire to form a broad-based Cabinet, Mr Kenyatta’s new government of 22 Cabinet Secretaries may be unveiled on April 17, a day after he is officially sworn in — just in case a petition challenging his election is unsuccessful.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are said to have engaged on how to share powerful dockets equally among their two partner parties of The National Alliance (TNA) and the United Republican Party (URP).
Related ministries, as currently structured, have been merged to form consolidated powerful dockets by a team of officials at the Cabinet Office, but Mr Kenyatta would have the final say on how he wants the ministries re-organised.
The President-elect is also said to be insisting on a significant women representation in his first Cabinet in which both TNA and URP are to each contribute 11 members.
In their appointments, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are expected to deal with regional balance in sharing portfolios, something that could make it difficult for one community to get more than one Cabinet slot in the new government.
On Thursday, Nairobi Senator-elect Gidion Mbuvi, a prominent member of Mr Kenyatta’s team, told theNation the two leaders have had good consultations on a number of issues, including on the government.
“I am not authorised to say more, but it is true that the President-elect-and his deputy have engaged in dialogue on the future of the country, including the new government,” Mr Mbuvi stated.
A host of fresh names, including that of former member of Interim Independent Electoral Commission Davis Chirchir, former boss of the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission PLO Lumumba, defeated Nairobi gubernatorial candidate Jimnah Mbaru, are among those being mentioned for possible considerations.
Also being mentioned are public service head Francis Kimemia and TNA officials Michael Waikenda and Onyango Oloo.
Outgoing cabinet ministers Charity Ngilu, Chirau Mwakwere, Sam Ongeri, Amos Kimunya and former MPs Najib Balala, Ekwee Ethuro and Kazungu Kambi are among poll losers said to be scheming for comeback through Cabinet appointments.
Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa is also among those being considered for appointment to the Cabinet in the new dispensation. Also mentioned as top candidate for ministerial appointment is Kericho senator-elect Charles Keter, a close confidant of Mr Ruto.
“Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are working on the Cabinet issue. The two guys are handling that matter and only the two know who will be cabinet secretary and who will not,” Mr Keter said.
He denied he is planning to resign from the Senate once his cabinet appointment is formalised, insisting he is comfortable as a senator.
“Being a senator is a big job. I think people are just lying that I want to be minister... anyway we will talk about that later.”
On Thursday, Mr Kenyatta was still at the Coast where, together with his deputy, he has engaged in a number of official and private activities and familiarisation exercises, including touring State-owned facilities in the area.
However, Mr Ruto returned to Nairobi briefly to attend to unspecified assignments.
On Thursday evening, the Amani coalition led by outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi began a three-day retreat at the Great Rift Valley Lodge to discuss whether to formally join the Jubilee coalition and what demands to put in the government sharing plan.
Matungu MP David Were confirmed the meeting, saying it was called to facilitate bonding and familiarisation among the new elected leaders. Mr Mudavadi, Mr Wamalwa (New Ford Kenya) and Baringo Senator-elect Gideon Moi (Kanu) are chairing it.

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