Intelligence chief Major-General Michael Gichangi resigned Thursday evening in a shake-up of the security docket.
Also removed is Interior Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo, who swaps places with his Defence counterpart, Ambassador Monica Juma.
The spy chief’s departure and the first ever shuffle of principal secretaries in the Jubilee government was announced along with the appointment of some of the President’s political allies as ambassadors.
Former Finance minister Njeru Githae is Kenya’s new ambassador to Washington while Ambassador Chirau Ali Mwakwere, a former Foreign Affairs minister, goes to Dar es Salaam.
Also, Kenya now has full representation at the Court of St James, with the transfer of Mr Lazarus Amayo from Zambia to London.
The Jubilee government, which has had chilly relations with the West, had tellingly left two of the most important postings — London and Washington — open. Last night’s diplomatic appointments might signal that the government is now ready to engage.
The departures of Maj-Gen Gichangi and Mr Iringo also complete the replacement of the security establishment inherited from the previous government and significantly consolidates the influence of the sole survivor, General Julius Karangi, the Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces and perhaps the President’s most influential aide.
Another centre of influence from the Kibaki government, former head of public service Francis Kimemia, was demoted to the less powerful portfolio of Secretary to the Cabinet, and is essentially contained as a power broker.
Maj-Gen Gichangi has been the Director-General of the National Intelligence Service since 2006. In the announcement, the President said he regretted the General’s resignation and praised him for his service.
Announcing the reshuffle, the President said the changes were made necessary by the need to improve service delivery and “realign the assignment of portfolio responsibilities of the government”.
Mr Kenyatta also raided the opposition Orange Democratic Movement in the appointments by picking former Nominated MP Sheikh Dor an ambassador and Ikolomani ODM chairman Aggrey Sitama deputy ambassador.
Maj-Gen Gichangi was resigning on personal grounds, the President said, adding that the spy chief would continue to serve until a replacement is appointed.
A quiet but fierce rivalry is reported to have characterised relations between Maj-Gen Gichangi and Gen Karangi, a dynamic which is not unusual amongst security services. Maj-Gen Gichangi’s term was scheduled to end next year.
President Kenyatta has already announced that Gen Karangi will retire at the expiry of his current term in April next year, paving the way for a succession in the most important security portfolios in the country.
On principal secretaries, Interior Affairs docket has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, with critics pointing fingers at Mr Iringo and Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku as having not been able to contain runaway insecurity in the country.
Mr Iringo was carried over in the same docket after the last elections, first having been appointed to the position during the Kibaki administration.
Dr Juma was Kenya’s ambassador to the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Mr Kenyatta moved Ms Mwanamaka Amani Mabruki from the East African Affairs docket to the ministry of Devolution and replaced her with Mr John Konchellah who held the former post.
He similarly moved Mr Titus Ekai from the Ministry of Mining to the Ministry of Sports. Mr Patrick Omutia, formerly at Sports, takes over at Mining. Dr Khadijah Kassachoon becomes PS Ministry of Health, swapping places with Prof Fred Segor, who was moved to Livestock.
Remaining true to his political allies, President Kenyatta appointed Mr Githae, Mr Mwakwere, Prof Sam Ongeri and former Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo as ambassadors.
Mr Kilonzo, who burnt his bridges with Wiper Democratic Movement party leader Kalonzo Musyoka heads to Ankara, Turkey. Prof Ongeri is Kenya’s permanent representative to UN Habitat. He has previously served as Foreign Affairs minister.
Former Moyale MP Mohammud Mohammed, a member of Deputy President William Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP), is the new ambassador to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, while Sheikh Dor heads to Muscat, Oman.
Former Air Force Commander, Major-Gen Joff Otieno, becomes Kenya’s new ambassador to Cairo Egypt, Dr George Masafu (Kinshasa, DRC), Ms Lucy Chelimo (Ottawa, Canada), former Eldoret Mayor Joseph Magut (Berlin, Germany), Mr Galma M Boru (Doha, Qatar), Mr Isaac Njenga ( Windhoek, Namibia), Prof Jacob Bitok (Khartoum), Ms Sophie Kadzo Kombo (Lusaka, Zambia), Ms Rukia Sugow (Tehran, Iran) and Dr Stephen Karau (Geneva, Switzerland).
In the changes, President Kenyatta named Ms Bellianda Achieng Omino as the deputy ambassador in New Delhi, India, while Immigration director Jane Waikenda goes to Pretroria, South Africa in a similar capacity. Mr Shitsama was named deputy ambassador but his station will be announced later.
The President, finally transferred ambassadors Mohamed Gello from the United Arab Emirates to Seoul, South Korea, John Lanasunya to Algiers, Algeria, Ali Abbas to Kuwait, S K Maina to Tokyo, Ambassador Lemorashira to Harare, Zimbabwe, Joseph Maikara from Somalia to Luanda, Angola, and Ms Jean Kamau from Washington to Bangkok, Thailand.