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Big names locked out as Uhuru names 9 to his partial Cabinet



DAILY NATION — President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday shocked and surprised his handlers and allies alike when he unveiled nine nominees to the Cabinet and sacked 13 others.

The President dropped all the women in his earlier Cabinet, naming only men in his first nine appointments.

Unlike in 2013, Deputy President William Ruto was not at his side when the President made the shocking announcement that he would only retain only six of his 18 CSs.


Close allies from Parliament and the presidency said they had been outwitted by the head of State who had earlier indicated that he would be naming his Cabinet “in the coming weeks”.

Many were left with mouths agape at the large number of casualties with some regions protesting after their sons and daughters were dropped.

Some of the leaders interviewed said the President’s move was “a massive bloodbath”.

All the five women CSs; Raychelle Omamo, Sicily Kariuki, Phyllis Kandie, Amina Mohamed and Judi Wakhungu were dropped. One of Ms Mohamed’s contribution during Mr Kenyatta’s first term in office was to rally the international community against the International Criminal Court, where both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were facing charges of crimes against humanity.


However, it is the inclusion of the Director of Public Prosecution, Mr Keriako Tobiko, the head of a constitutional organ, that got tongues wagging on what Mr Kenyatta’s intentions could be and whether he was reaching out to the Maasai community following the demise of Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery, just weeks to the General Election last August.

However, the post of CS for the Interior and Co-ordination of the National Government was given to Dr Fred Matiang’i, who was appointed acting Education CS.

“I have today accepted the resignation of Mr Keriako Tobiko as Director of Public Prosecution under Article 158 (ix) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” the President said before announcing that Mr Tobiko would be in his Cabinet.

The nomination of former Marsabit Governor Ukur Yattani also meant that the fate of Sports minister Hassan Wario was sealed because the two hail from the same region.

A former Jubilee candidate for Turkana gubernatorial race, Mr John Munyes, was also nominated. He and the other nominees will be waiting for vetting by Parliament before they can be formally appointed.


His appointment is in keeping with the ruling party’s plans to win all the pastoralist communities to its side after a lackluster performance in Turkana in the last elections.

Opposition candidate Raila Odinga obtained more votes than Mr Kenyatta there. It would also appear that Mr Munyes’ recent trip to State House when he led a delegation from the region paid off.

Mr Kenyatta left little doubt that it was all about securing his legacy. Earlier in the day, he had set the tone for his plan of action at the launch of book distribution to primary and secondary schools when he said that he would pick a lean team comprising individuals who do not condone graft.

“Some of the changes I am proposing during my final term is to come down hard on individuals who are abusing our systems for personal gain,” Mr Kenyatta said at a meeting in Karen earlier Friday.

“They must change or step aside because the time to laugh over these issues is over. There are many Kenyans willing to serve in public positions.”


In a departure from 2013 when the president and his Deputy William Ruto paraded their Cabinet nominees in an elaborate ceremony marked by fanfare, Mr Ruto was missing in action.

He travelled to India and is reported to have returned Friday but Mr Kenyatta did not explain his deputy’s whereabouts during his televised addressed from State House, Nairobi.

Besides the five women, the other CSs who have effectively been dropped are Mr Wario, Mr Mwangi Kiunjuri (Devolution), Jacob Kaimenyi (Lands), Eugene Wamalwa (Water), Willy Bett (Agriculture), Dan Kazungu (Mining), Adan Mohamed (Industrialisation) and Cleopa Mailu (Health).

All fell by the wayside as the President moved to demonstrate that none in his Cabinet was indispensable.

The case of Mr Wamalwa and Mr Kiunjuri will, however, elicit mixed reactions since they shelved their political ambitions at the request of Mr Kenyatta.

At the height of the campaigns, the President had hinted that he would retain them in the Cabinet. He could, however, appoint them to other plum positions.


Efforts by the Ameru professional group to campaign for Prof Kaimenyi hit a snag. They have, for some time now, run major campaigns in the press to have the CS retained.

For Dr Mailu, the protracted strikes by health workers and the general crisis in the sector may have cost him his job.

The sackings hand Mr Kenyatta an opportunity to reach out to new allies, especially following the post-election realignment. However, it could also pose new challenges for him in the regions that will feel left out.

Friday’s shocker announcement also came with a seal of approval for Interior SC Fred Matiang’i, the man who has become the darling of the President and is often referred to as a super minister by his colleagues.

He is also the acting Education CS under the new dispensation, having switched the two roles. The others that the President retained were Mr Henry Rotich (National Treasury), Mr Najib Balala (Tourism), Mr James Macharia (Transport), Mr Charles Keter (Energy) and Mr Joe Mucheru (ICT).

It would appear that Attorney-General Githu Muigai was retained though the President did not make any mention of him.


“I wish to state that I am retaining the following persons in my Cabinet and shall reassign them accordingly in accordance with Article 152 (v (a)),” Mr Kenyatta said before reading out the names of the men he had retained.

Mr Macharia must count himself lucky given the fact that the country has witnessed numerous road accidents, peaking on the eve of New Year when almost 40 people died in the wee hours of Sunday morning at Migaa on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.

Keen to reinvigorate the fight against crime, Mr Kenyatta got rid of long-serving head of the Directorate of the Criminal Investigations, Mr Ndegwa Muhoro, who will now report to the Public Service Commission for reassignment.

A number of murder cases which have happened under his watch such as those of businessman Jacob Juma and most recently that of the ICT manager at the electoral commission, Mr Chris Musando, remain unsolved.


Other changes announced in the security sector included the promotion of Mr Edward Njoroge Mbugua as acting Deputy Inspector General Kenya Police, Mr Noor Gabow as acting Inspector General in charge of the Administration Police and Mr George Kinoti Maingi who replaces Mr Muhoro. Mr Samuel Arachi, the Deputy Inspector-General of the AP was sent back to Public Service For redeployment. (Story on Page 6).

Changes in the security docket just like those concerning Cabinet that will require vetting and approval by relevant bodies such as the National police service Commission and Parliament.

“I would also like to inform the country that on the advice of the National Police Service Commission and in consultation with the Inspector-General (of Police) and (in line with) Regulation 26 of the National Police Service Commission Act Recruitment and Appointments Regulations 2015, the following officers are appointed in acting capacity until processed by the commission in accordance with the said law,” he said.


With superior numbers in both the National Assembly and the Senate, the President expects little resistance in approving his list of nominees.

At State House, Mr Joseph Kinyua was retained as the Head of the Public Service to be assisted by Mr Wanyama Musiambo.

“I will be making further announcements to fill Cabinet positions, to fill the positions of Principal Secretaries as well as our Sagas (parastatals) as we continue to populate the Government with those that will be charged with the responsibility of executing our agenda for the next five years,” Mr Kenyatta said yesterday.


Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga agree to unite Kenyans



DAILY NATION — President Kenyatta on Friday morning held a surprise meeting with his political arch-rival and National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga at Harambee House in Nairobi.

It was the first time the two were meeting face-to-face since their fallout following the hotly contested August 8, 2017 General Election and October 26, 2017 repeat presidential poll that Mr Odinga boycotted.


The agenda of the meeting centred on how to unite and heal Kenya following a divisive General Election in 2017.

In a joint statement, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga promised to work together to halt the country’s descent into the abyss following a divisive 2017 General Election.

They expressed their desire to aside their differences and reconstruct a nation that is responsive to the urgent need for prosperity, fairness and dignity for all Kenyans.

“There are changes in our system of governance for us to succeed and we have been in the process of reform to deal with them for the last 20 years,” Mr Odinga, who read the joint statement, said.

“Despite all the reforms, we continue to have a deep and bitter disagreement. Ethnic antagonism and divisive political competition have become a way of life.”


The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader said the political differences that have divided more than four Kenyan generations “must now come to an end”.

The Odinga and Kenyatta families have been fighting over the leadership of Kenya since independence.

On his part, Mr Kenyatta said they had agreed to put the interests of Kenya and Kenyans first.

They agreed to roll out a programme to effect their shared objectives revolving around war on corruption, ethnic antagonism and competition, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution and divisive elections.

To implement the programme, the two formed a taskforce, co-chaired by lawyer Paul Mwangi and Ambassador Martin Kimani.

The two leaders urged Kenyans to overcome negative ethnicity “by acting on the understanding that elections on their own are not solution to our national challenges.”

All Kenyans, they said, should faithfully adhere to the Constitution and rule of law, and halt antagonism and tribal profiling.

The two leaders did not take any questions from journalists.

Conspicuously missing at Harambee House, in the heart of the capital Nairobi, were Mr Odinga’s Nasa co-principals Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula.

It was not immediately clear why they did not attend but cracks started emerging in the alliance recently after the three failed to attend Mr Odinga’s mock presidential oath.

The address and meeting come on the day US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to land in Nairobi on his tour of Africa.


Some Nasa and Jubilee party leaders welcomed the meeting and its resolutions, saying it would help heal Kenya.

Deputy President William Ruto took to Twitter to thank his boss and former boss on their agreement.

“Congratulations Pres Uhuru & Raila for being statesmen. You have risen to the moment for kenya and against hate, negative ethnicity and division,” he tweeted.

“The unity, stability and transformation of Kenya supersedes all other partisan interests. Wangwana mubarikiwe mpaka mshangae (gentlemen, be blessed abundantly).”

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti said it was encouraging to see Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga bury the hatchet.

“The country will now be in the right shape now that the leaders can sit together despite the long and difficult political period we have had,” he said on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Kisumu.

“On behalf of the people of Homa Bay, I congratulate my party leader for taking this bold decision.

“It is a decision that ordinary people cannot take. We are very encouraged and motivated by this because it will open our country to better things. This is a welcome gesture.”


Mr Odinga and his co-principals in Nasa have been pushing for talks with Mr Kenyatta on electoral justice and reforms.

President Kenyatta had rejected their calls, saying he is only ready for dialogue on development and how to take Kenya forward.

Mr Odinga, who had vowed not recognise Mr Kenyatta’s election win and presidency, had threatened to lead a resistance movement against the Jubilee administration.

The Nasa leader, in a protest move and an open show of defiance, took a mock oath of office as the people’s president on January 30.

He insists he won the August 8, 2017 presidential poll but the figures were manipulated in Mr Kenyatta’s favour.

The president and the electoral commission dismissed his claims.

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Kenyan police seek to recover cache of arms after Al-Shabaab attack



MANDERA — Kenyan police have stepped up search for the Somali extremists who attacked two camps in northeast Mandera county and stole a huge cache of arms after the two raids in which five police officers were killed.

A police report released on Sunday said the terrorists blamed for sporadic attacks along Somalia border also looted the armory during the attacks, escaping with 16 G3 rifles, 26 AK47 rifles, 5 FN rifles, one F3 rifle, one M60 machine gun, one commando mortar 60mm and one base plate mortar 60mm.

The police report which was released two days after the raid by the Al-Shabaab militants says unknown number of ammunitions were also looted in the incident that left 12 police officers injured.

The police said on Friday they have launched a major manhunt for Al-Shabaab group leader that attacked two police camps in Mandera County.

Police spokesman Charles Owino said Jamaa Nuh Abdille, who fled to Somalia with others after the Friday dawn attack in Fino, was behind the killing of five police officers.

“We have since identified the leader of the group that carried out the attack as Jamaa Nuh Abdille who fled with others after the attack to Somalia and we are hot on their trail,” Owino said.
According to police report, the terrorists also destroyed a communication mast in the area affecting communication in general. Preliminary findings show the terrorists used Improvised Explosive Devises and other forms of explosives in the attack.

Northeastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh said they are pursuing various leads into the attack in efforts to recover the stolen ammunition.

“We have mobilized to ensure the area is safe,” Saleh said on Sunday. On Wednesday, security agents repulsed Al-Shabaab terrorists who tried to attack two police stations in Wajir.

Three suspects were arrested after they were chased by security forces from Ijara camps in the failed incident.

Police on the ground said the group had fired into the camps before officers there fired back in an exchange that lasted almost 20 minutes.

The area has been experiencing a rise of terror related attacks in the past months in which almost a dozen communication masts. Xinhua

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Somali refugees in Kenya between rock and hard place



NAIROBI, Kenya- Around half-a-million refugees stranded in Kenya face an impossible choice: either go home to al-Shabaab-wrecked Somalia under a controversial UNHCR “voluntary repatriation” program or stay and face massive debts accumulated due to food shortages at camps.

The dire situation can be witnessed firsthand at the Dadaab Refugee Complex in North Eastern province where over 486,460 refugees have taken asylum, according to figures released in January by The UN Refugee Agency.

Somalis living at the complex, which hosts thousands of makeshift refugee shelters, told Anadolu Agency the only reason they came to Kenya was because they were forced to flee the civil war back home and the threat of al-Shabaab militants who have killed many in the Horn of Africa region.

Dadaab is located 474 kilometers (294 miles) from capital Nairobi. It is an arid place with no paved roads but just swathes and swathes of barren fuscous-golden brown sand. Usually there is no sign of life en route to the camp except for lizards skittering across the sand. But sometimes people appear out of nowhere who can be seen herding camels. They are locals of the area who are mostly nomadic pastoralists and are always on the move.

As soon as one reaches the refugee complex, the picture of neglect and misery hits in the face as harshly as the scorching heat under which the extremely poor people live there.

Anyone who approaches the K1 block at the camp gets overwhelmed with requests from refugees scrambling over a barbed wire fence, urging for food, water, money or anything that one could spare for them.

Men, women and children can be seen squeezing into any spot that provides them with shade, others stare aimlessly into the distance deep in thought.

Tales of horror are in abundance here. One man said he arrived at the camp after spending three weeks in hiding after his family was killed in Somalia. Many others shared similar graphic realities.

Debts after food cuts

Several people at the camp told Anadolu Agency that after 30 percent food cuts were announced by the World Food Programme (WFP) for refugees living in Dadaab, they were forced to take loans to buy food and ended up accumulating “huge” debts of hundreds of dollars.

Many said it was because of these debts that they were now considering the recently-announced United Nations “Voluntary” repatriation program, which claims “to ensure the exercise of a free and informed choice and to mobilize support for returnees.”

Yassir Zahi said there is nothing voluntary about going back home and added he simply wants to run away from debt like many other refugees like himself at the camp.

“When the food cuts came, we were forced to accumulate debt since October 2017 because even the food was not enough for one person.

“Nothing is voluntary about me going home; I borrowed to buy food on credit and I am not alone; many have done the same, I owe the guy $300.

“All this I did to buy flour for porridge and milk and rice to feed my family; I used to sell flour but I ended up consuming it all with my family; they [money-lenders] came to ask for their money which I didn’t have and they threatened me and my family, especially my 16-year[-old] daughter,” Zahi said.

Through the voluntary repatriation program, the UN has created an avenue for people to clear off their debts “by returning back to my war-torn country,” he added.

In a 2018 report, Not Time to Go Home, Amnesty International also outlined how refugees were being coerced to go back to war at home due to the severe humanitarian crisis.

People left behind

Aamiina Osman, a 75-year-old woman, was found chained to a tree at the camp, attacking anyone who tried to come near her with a handful of sand.

Her adopted grandson Rashid Latif said she used to be happy and jovial but the terrible conditions at the refugee camp had destroyed the old woman.

“Her real family deserted her and went back to Somalia leaving her to fend for herself; they said that because she is too old she would slow them down once they got to war-torn Somalia; being deserted by the six family members made her partially mentally ill,” Latif said.

“On that night [they left], they chained four old women here [to the tree] and their families left; luckily, we found them, otherwise, they would have died; some went back to their homes but I adopted her [Osman] as my grandmother as I am an orphan and I take care of her,” he added.

Lack of funds

UNHCR’s Yvonne Ndege denied that refugees were being coerced to go back home. “The refugees are actually not ‘sent’ — they make a considered and informed decision to return or go to Somalia.

“There is a careful and detailed process that refugees who say they want to return follow before we help them return. That’s accompanied by up to date information from over 30 local organizations on the ground in Somalia constantly updating refugees on the situation back home. There are also what we call ‘go and see’ missions led by refugee leaders who go and see what’s going on in Somalia and come back with info for refugees considering return.”

She also told Anadolu Agency funding had not been adequate to help those wanting to return home.

“75,297 Somalis have voluntarily repatriated to Somalia since 2014, up to Dec 31, 2017; 35,407 returned in 2017 alone.

“There is a funding gap for the whole of Kenya. UNHCR support for refugees is only 32 percent funded, leaving a gap of 68 percent as of the 31st of December, 2017. We need $231.3M but only have $73.1M,” Ndege said.

Marco Lembo from the UNHCR said those who return get a “full package” in Somalia, which consists of conditional and non-conditional cash grants, including one-time payment of up to $1,000 per household and monthly grant of $200. He added that six months of food rations, supported by the WFP, are also given.

Somalia remains dangerous

Somali-based al-Shabaab militants continue to control cities in Somalia amid reports of them terrorizing women, men and children along the Horn of Africa region, which in turn causes massive displacement of people.

Guns have not been silenced in Somalia despite 25 years of conflict in the country. Experts repeatedly warn that going back to Somalia means returning to war and death.

But nonetheless, the Kenyan government has halted any new registration of Somali refugees and recently even disbanded its Department of Refugee Affairs, creating an invisible wall to hundreds of thousands who desperately seek asylum. Kenya had also urged the UNHCR to expedite the voluntary return of refugees after shelving a decision to close the camp due to insecurity.

At Dadaab, most refugees who spoke to Anadolu Agency said al-Shabaab had played a major role in their decision to seek asylum in Kenya to begin with, but now things are so bad at their refugee complex they feel they have no option but to take the hard road back home despite the dangers.

Summing up the sentiments of thousands of refugees like himself, Zahi concluded: “Life here is a hellish nightmare, I tell you”.

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