Uhuru To Decide Fate Of Ambassadors, AG, PSs

THE fate of existing ambassadors, high commissioners, PS’s and even Attorney General Githu Muigai now lies with President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta. After his swearing in on tomorrow as the country’s fourth President, Uhuru will be at liberty to reconstitute Kenya’s embassies and high commissions and will decide which ambassadors will be recalled or redeployed.

The fate of the current permanent secretaries and several other top government officials also is in the hands of the new president. Articles 132 (2) of the Constitution places the prerogative of nominating and appointing Cabinet secretaries, the AG, secretary to the Cabinet, principal secretaries, high commissioners, ambassadors, diplomatic and consular representatives with the president.

Parliament must however approve them before they are formally appointed. Uhuru is under no obligation to reappoint the current serving officials to the same positions.

“It’s up to him to decide whether to reappoint the existing ones or to appoint others. And this includes the position of the Attorney General,” the chairman of the Commission on Implementation of the Constitution Charles Nyachae said yesterday.

Githu was appointed the AG on August 29, 2011 to replace long-serving Amos Wako. He is therefore barely two years in office. It would therefore be unlikely that Uhuru would nominate another person for the position. However, if Uhuru wants to retain him, the AG would still have his re-nomination vetted by Parliament together with all other nominees.

There are over 60 Kenyan foreign missions manned by high commissioners, consular representatives, diplomatic representatives and ambassadors. Technically, their positions are vacant for filling by the incoming President and the National Assembly.

Among the most vital diplomatic postings include Washington, Beijing, Nigeria, Stockholm, Ethiopia and Berlin. Elkanah Odembo is Kenya’s ambassador to the US in Washington. He’s assisted by Dr Wenwa Odinga in Los Angeles and Josephine Ojiambo in New York.

Purity Muhindi is the ambassador in Stockholm while Monica Juma is the ambassador in Addis, a strategic posting owing to it being the seat of African Union. Besides being the ambassador to Ethiopia, Juma is also Kenya’s ambassador to the AU and Djibouti.

The Washington posting is highly rated because the city is the seat of the only world super power- the US. The mission also serves Mexico and Colombia.

Apart from Sweden, the Kenyan mission in Stockholm also serves Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Beijing on the other hand serves the world largest and fastest growing economy- China.

The Nigerian mission is strategic owing to the population and size of the country. Besides, the ambassador there- Francis Sigei serves almost the whole of Western Africa including Ivory Coast, Togo, Ghana and Liberia.

Even if he were to nominate the existing ambassadors, it is unlikely that all of them would pass parliamentary vetting. Some of the serving ambassadors and High commissioners were handed the positions mainly due to their political connections in the Kibaki and even Moi administrations with allegations that some were appointed to their positions on the basis of cronyism and nepotism.

MPs in the last Parliament were up in arms with the executive especially over the appointment of Raila Odinga’s sister Wenwa Akinyi Odinga as the consular general in Kenya’s Mission in Los Angeles in the US. The MPs claimed many other Kenyan ambassadors were related to members of the executive.

For permanent secretaries whose positions will now to be known as principal secretaries, their fate lies in the hands of Uhuru and the National Assembly. There are currently about 40 PSs.

Though the constitution limits the number of ministries to between 14 and 22, it is expected that the number of principal secretaries would be higher than 22 as some ministries will have two or more PSs.


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