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Raila hints at Cabinet changes

Tuesday April 26 2011

Photo |  PMPS Prime Minister Raila Odinga briefs journalists on his official visit to France at the auditorium in his office on April 26, 2011.

Photo | PMPS Prime Minister Raila Odinga briefs journalists on his official visit to France at the auditorium in his office on April 26, 2011. 

By PETER LEFTIE [email protected]

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Tuesday spoke of a looming Cabinet reshuffle that may determine the fate of suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto.

The PM told a news conference the that reshuffle would be effected in “due course” to fill vacancies in the Cabinet.

Mr Odinga, who was addressing journalists after returning from a two-week tour of the US and France, however, declined to answer questions on the fate of Mr Ruto, who was suspended after being charged in a Sh43 million land fraud case. He was acquitted early this month.

“A Cabinet reshuffle is the work of the Executive. That will be done soon. I do not want to talk about individuals because this country is greater than any individual,” Mr Odinga told journalists.

Mr Ruto’s close ally, Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny, said on Tuesday that Mr Ruto had been expected to resume his ministerial duties on Tuesday but this did not happen as he is currently on holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

When he announced his suspension on October 19, last year, President Kibaki said Mr Ruto would stay out of office and wait for the fraud case to be concluded.

The President appointed Prof Hellen Sambili to act as Higher Education Minister.

Under the National Accord, Mr Odinga ought to be consulted on all ministerial appointments and dismissals involving members of his party, ODM.

It is not clear whether this also applies to the reinstatement of ODM ministers serving suspension.

For instance, Fisheries Minister Amason Kingi is acting in the Industrialisation docket pending the conclusion of a corruption case against Mr Henry Kosgey.

Mr Ruto’s return to the Cabinet may be complicated by another fraud case he faces in an Eldoret court.

The Eldoret North MP has been sued by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission over a council plot in Eldoret municipality.

The anti-graft agency has sued him, alongside former Lands Commissioner Wilson Gachanja and two companies over land it claims was illegally acquired from the council.

Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua has said that once a suspended individual, charged with corruption or any economic crime had been cleared, it was automatic that he would be reinstated.

The Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act stipulates that “a public officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended at half pay but ceases to be suspended if the proceedings against him are discontinued or if he is acquitted”.