By Collins Wanzala in Nairobi
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki suffered an embarrassing climb-down after his Finance Minister who was also the deputy Prime Minister, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was forced to stand aside and fight to clear his name at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Mr Kenyatta was joined by Francis Muthaura, until yesterday the head of the Kenya Civil Service who also decided to follow suit after both politicians were ordered by the ICC to answer charges for criminal offences they are accused of having carried out during the 2007 post-election violence.
The climb-down came barely 24 hours after Mr Kibaki had said the two Kenyan statesmen did not need to resign from their posts. Mr Kenyatta and Mr Muthaura bowed to pressure and resigned from the Government after a section of Kenyans and civil society mounted a pressure on them to step aside after their post-election violence cases were confirmed on Monday at the International Criminal Court. The two other Kenyans whose cases were confirmed to proceed for trial are Eldoret North Member of Parliament William Ruto and radio broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang.
Kenyatta’s resignation prompted President Kibaki to cut his losses and order a mini cabinet reshuffle. Kenyatta has been replaced by Njeru Githae as Finance Minister while Muthaura’s place has been offered to Francis Kimemia, until now the Permanent Secretary for Internal Security. Mr Kimemia has been replaced at the Internal Security Ministry by his former Deputy Mr Mutea Iringo.
Political pundits in Kenya say that Kenyatta’s resignation and the case that he is facing at The Hague has put him in an awkward position and may seriously hamper his family’s dream to step in the shoes of his much admired father, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who became Kenya’s founding father after leading the nation to independence in 1964 and went on to lead it for 14 years until his death in 1978. “Though Uhuru is a rich person, he will not have confidence while campaigning as in some areas he will visit while campaigning he is likely to get a hostile reception as people will not take him so serious as they will have concluded that with the crimes facing him at the ICC, he was just wasting time,” said Jacqueline Muhele a political analyst in Nairobi. William Ruto has also declared his interest to vie for the presidency.