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

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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.

OUTWITTED

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.

TOBIKO

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.

LAST ELECTIONS

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.”

WILLIAM RUTO

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.

RETAINED

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.

ROAD ACCIDENTS

“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.

SECURITY

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.

NOMINEES

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.

KENYA

Miraa exporters to Mogadishu boycott trade over high prices

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Miraa exporters serving the Mogadishu market have started a boycott on the trade citing high farm gate prices.

Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) Chairman Kimathi Munjuri said the traders resolved to boycott buying the twigs to force farmers to lower the prices.

According to Mr Munjuri, a 100kg sack of miraa is now selling at Sh160,000, up from at least Sh20,000 during the rainy season.

This means a 1kg bundle (bunda) of the medium quality miraa is selling at Sh1,600.

The high prices are due to low supply caused by the dry spell that started early December.

“Only traders serving other parts of Somalia shipped their commodity on Monday night.

Traders who export to Mogadishu feel that it is not sustainable to buy 100kgs at Sh160,000 because buyers cannot afford it.

TRADERS MEET

He said the traders met in Eastleigh on Sunday and resolved that they would not buy miraa from farmers.

“This means about 30 tonnes of miraa has not been delivered to Mogadishu,” Mr Munjuri said.

Mr Joseph Muturia, a member of the Miraa report implementation committee, said the premium quality miraa known as ‘Mbaine’ is selling at Sh6,000 a kilo while ‘kisa’ is retailing at Sh4,000.

“I currently sell miraa locally because residents understand the quality of this type of miraa,” Mr Muturia said.

Mr Josiah Mugo, a miraa consumer, said he could no longer afford to chew daily after prices spiked from mid-December.

“A small bundle (surba) of the best quality khat is now retailing at more than Sh400 from Sh150 last month. I am considering shifting to muguka but its quality is not good. I am now chewing occasionally so as not to stretch my budget,” Mr Mugo said.

BOYCOTT FUTILE

However, Nyamita termed the move by the traders as futile saying the miraa prices are determined by market forces.

“Miraa trading is highly dependent on supply and demand. At no time do farmers or suppliers meet to fix the price. The exporters have tried this before in vain. Let those who have a market for miraa, at its prevailing prices, buy and sell without undue subjection to mob attempts to fix prices,” Mr Munjuri said.

He noted that farmers are also subjected to poor prices when there is a miraa glut during the rains.

“During the rains, miraa is in plenty and traders pick it for a dime. An attempt by farmers to boycott selling at poor prices have also failed,” the Nyamita chairman said.

ADDRESS CHALLENGES

Nyamita now wants the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) to move in and address challenges facing the sector so as to stabilise prices.

Earlier, the lobby had faulted AFA for not operationalising an office in Maua, Meru County that was opened in November 2017.

“The fluctuations in supply [is one] of the urgent and critical issues we have been hoping the national government would address. Unfortunately AFA is yet to start operations despite opening their office in Maua,” he added.

Farmers have called on the county and national governments to allocate more funds towards irrigation projects to ensure consistent production of miraa.

In April 2017, traders boycotted selling miraa in Somalia for four days over a tax dispute with Mogadishu authorities.

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KENYA

Time ripe for Kenyan business people to venture into Somalia

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As the economy recovers, it will be wise for Kenyans companies to set eyes on Somalia.

DAILY NATION — Though associated with insecurity for years, recent developments there are making it an attractive investment option.

In fact, in the past year, Somalia was the only neighbouring trade partner that registered strong growth in export volumes with Kenya.

With exports worth over Sh10 billion, it is the third-largest destination for Kenyan goods.

GENDER

Among factors that make business sense to set up shop in Somalia is strong political leadership, headed by Federal President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed, who came into office in a peaceful transfer of power.

It’s also noteworthy that almost a quarter of the elected Members of Parliament are women — proof of gender parity, hence fairness.

The Mogadishu government is making strides towards sustainable stability. Besides joining anti-piracy efforts and holding security conferences, it now controls its airspace, which was under the United Nations since 1992.

The African Union is preparing to leave the country — a testament of an improved security situation.

There is not much competition in Somalia, more so due to decades of violence, and businesses would get much more returns there compared to other, more mature markets.

CARGO PLANES

There are business distribution lines throughout the country established via the miraa trade. Cargo planes ply the Kenya-Somalia route daily, so logistics should not be an issue.

Again, Kenyan traders enjoy goodwill as our country has hosted Somali refugees for more than two decades.

Since Kenya has a well-developed Islamic financial system, that would serve anyone wanting to do business in Somalia very well.

The communities along the common border have traded for centuries. Indeed, livestock trade has thrived for ages there.

A business can also set base in Garissa and other border counties and use that as a launching pad to Somalia. The presence of airports, government investments such as roads and the counties’ efforts to promote businesses in their localities would be a boon for businesses eyeing Somalia.

Further, the border posts, such as Liboi, ensure safe and efficient travel in and out of Somalia.

MOGADISHU

Though scarred by war, Somalia has many universities, whose graduates, together with Somalis returning from the diaspora, would provide skilled labour.

Public services are devolved and one doesn’t need to go to Mogadishu for every business need.

The UN and other international organisations and multinationals have been in Somali for a long time and a business would not be venturing into Somalia in isolation.

Rather, it would have abundance of knowledge and information to tap into. Besides, one can partner with locals in joint ventures.

As war ends ands and normalcy returns in Somalia, our youth can invest or seek jobs in Somalia.

That would also boost the fight against terror, both there and in Kenya.
Kariuki Gathuitu, Nairobi.

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Somali militants “lecture” frightened Kenyan villagers before escaping

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LAMU, Kenya, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) — About 100 Somali Al-Shabaab militants on Sunday stormed a village in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region where they “lectured” frightened villagers.

The militants flushed out Ishakani villagers from their houses and preached to them radical teachings at the border village between Kenya and Somalia.

According to witnesses living in Ishakani, the militants joined other Muslim faithful for prayers in the mosque in which they lectured them before escaping into Somalia.

Lamu County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo confirmed the incident on Sunday evening, saying that they got information and sent officers to pursue the militants.
Kitiyo confirmed that a group of between 60 to 100 suspected Al-Shabaab militants invaded Ishakani village on Sunday.

“However, within 30 minutes, we had already sent out a special team of KDF (Kenya Defence Forces) to pursue the terrorists. Our officers are pursuing the criminals who suspected that our security team must be following them,” Kitiyo said.

The government official reiterated that the national government is aware of the militants’ threats and are working towards weeding out the Al-Shabaab group from Boni forest which he said continues to be their base of operations.

He further said that KDF from the local camp together with the special squad are hunting down the militants in Boni forest.

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