A defiant demoted Kenyan Cabinet Minister William Ruto said on Thursday he would not be cowed into changing his stand over the draft constitution following his Wednesday’s relocation from the influential Agriculture docket to that of Higher Education. In an answer to Prime Minister Raila Odinga who is said to have engineered the move, Ruto said he has a democratic right to take a position of his choice in the constitutional debate. “If the intention of the reshuffle was meant to make me change my mind, it has failed. My stand does not have to be the same as other people’s,” he said.
Ruto however welcomed his new posting promising to dispense his duties with the same zeal as he did in the Agriculture docket. “I am looking forward to working with the academia, professors and students. This is a chance to work with other Kenyans,” he said. Ruto said he is ready to hand over office and take up his new posting any time his counterpart Sally Kosgey is ready to do so. He remained adamant that there was still a chance for the country to avoid another polarized referendum as was the case in 2005 by amending the contentious issues.
The Minister said he was proud of the legacy he had left behind at the Agriculture Ministry noting that he had during his tenure managed to lower the cost of agricultural production through the policies he initiated. And asked about his sentiments on the sacking of his close ally, former Energy Assistant Minister Charles Keter in the Wednesday mini-reshuffle, Ruto said the Belgut MP should understand that the whole issue was political and forge ahead. “He is man enough and that is politics. I have talked to him and he is ready to take it up,” he said. Keter was the only cabinet official fired in the reshuffle that affected seven ministers and assistant ministers.
A statement from Statehouse said the President made the changes in consultation with the Prime Minister. But in a swift rejoinder on the same day, Ruto said he was up to the task and promised Kenyans that he will deliver as expected. Ruto said the new appointment gives him a second chance to serve Kenyans even better. He refuted allegations that the removal from the Ministry of Agriculture was aimed at settling political scores over his stand on the proposed constitution.
Others affected include, Trade Minister Amos Kimunya who now doubles up as the Transport Minister in an acting capacity. The position fell vacant after Chirau Ali Mwakwere lost his Matuga seat through an election petition in February. Ruto who is also the deputy ODM leader and Keter have been labelled ODM rebels for differing with their party leader Raila Odinga on various issues including the Constitution and the Mau forest evictions. Earlier in the day, Keter left office terming his removal from the Cabinet as political and engineered by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
The Belgut MP told of how he learnt of his dismissal in Wednesday’s mini Cabinet reshuffle after placing a call to the Office of the President to find out about his fate soon after learning of the reshuffle that was communicated by the Presidential Press Service through a statement to newsrooms. According to Keter, officials at OP told him that the recommendation for his sacking was made by the PM who is ODM boss and in charge of the party Ministers. “They explained to me that according to the National Accord, it is the Prime Minister who was in charge of ODM ministers so it was him who made that recommendation that I be sacked, but I’m not bitter,” said Keter. Magerer had welcomed his new appointment and promised to execute his duties to his best.
Other new Assistant Ministers include Samuel Kazungu Kambi who has been posted to the Medical Services Ministry which had never been filled following the resignation of Garsen MP Danson Mungatana last year. Wilfred Moriasi Ombui has been named National Heritage Assistant Minister. The post was previoulsy held by Joel Onyancha whose also lost his South Mugirango seat after the High Court nullified his election.
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