Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says he is purging his government of people blinded by future political ambitions instead of concentrating on the current development agenda – the Big Four.
Kenyatta knifed key senate leaders allied to his deputy William Ruto, and replaced them with his own supporters, a move the country can not desist from reading as a plan to curtail his deputy’s presidential bid.
His two five-year terms end in 2022 and Ruto has already marketed himself both within the ruling Jubilee Party and the country as heir-apparent. But relations between the two have soured and Kenyatta began purging Ruto’s allies from key posts in January in a cabinet reshuffle.
This fissure started with the famous handshake– when Kenyatta and his bitter rival Raila Odinga buried the hatchet after a hotly contested poll in March 2018– and has pitted members allied with Kenyatta against supporters of Ruto.
He told NTV in an interview aired on Wednesday that people are being removed from “positions (that) are very critical to me and my fulfillment of this agenda so let me put somebody who is willing to put their time and effort.”
“I do not have that much time to go and so I cannot continue pleading. So if you feel you are not able to work in tandem with my agenda, please then, why don’t you let me put somebody who is eager and keen to help me fulfil that agenda.” the President said.
“I want people who are not going to fight that agenda that I laid out and gave to Kenyans. I want people who are going to support that agenda,” he added
The Party’s National Executive Committee meeting is due, where allies of Ruto are reportedly expected to be kicked out.
Tensions started after Kenyatta failed to consult Ruto on cabinet appointments and embraced his former rival, veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, in March 2018. Last week, political analysts said the Senate purge was an escalation of tensions that had simmered for months.
“The fallout has been very public and very clear for a long time,” George Kegoro, a newspaper columnist. was quoted as saying by Reuters News Agency.
Kenyatta promised during the last election that he would support Ruto in 2022 in return for an alliance between Ruto’s ethnic Kalenjin community and Kenyatta’s Kikiyu ethnic group.
But that promise looks increasingly hollow as Kenyatta and Odinga grow closer. Both men are promoting a government initiative to tackle election violence by creating more positions, including a prime minister.
On this, he said: “I have not reached out (to Odinga) to break what we have, but to extend what we have. “It is about trying to end suspicions not create suspicions.”
Anti-graft activists dismissed the document as merely providing more opportunities for theft in the corruption-prone nation.
Some Kenyans worry that the power struggle is a distraction from the nation’s mounting debt load, its corruption scandals, acute economic inequalities and the growing threat of the new coronavirus crisis, said Kegoro.
“Markets and economic players will be wondering what is going to happen to the country in terms of its long-term political stability,” said Kegoro.
Contains files published by Reuters