PSs now swap positions six weeks after cabinet reshuffle

Tuesday January 12 2016

Principal Secretaries Dr Monica Juma (left) and Dr Karanja Kibicho who on January 12, 2015 swapped their Interior and Foreign Affairs positions respectively. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Principal Secretaries Dr Monica Juma (left) and Dr Karanja Kibicho who on January 12, 2015 swapped their Interior and Foreign Affairs positions respectively. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho and his Interior counterpart Monica Juma have finally swapped positions, six weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta reshuffled his Cabinet.

A brief statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that the two PSs jointly addressed heads of department at the ministry before Dr Kibicho handed over to Ms Juma.

“The new PS, Dr Monica Juma received MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) documents and promised to continue where PS Karanja Kibicho left,” said the statement that was also posted on the ministry’s Twitter page.

The swapping of roles means Dr Juma, Kenya’s former ambassador to the AU, will now be charged with handling matters of foreign policy and managing Kenya’s foreign missions, under Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.

Dr Kibicho, who had been in the ministry since President Kenyatta came into office, will now move to the Interior Ministry, where he will work with CS Joseph Nkaissery on matters of national security.

The brief ceremony brings to a closure suspicions that had surrounded their delayed transfer despite their peers moving to their work stations weeks ago.

On Monday, Dr Kibicho officially bade farewell to staff at the ministry, two days after Dr Juma wrote a farewell note to the Interior staff. It was posted on the ministry’s website.

The swapping between Dr Juma and Dr Kibicho had been postponed on two occasions, first in December and then last week, creating speculation on whether it would happen at all. The government argued Dr Kibicho was still handling the WTO Conference, and added December holidays had delayed the swap.

Dr Kibicho told the Nation the two ministries being sensitive required more preparations for the official handover to happen.

“The delay is purely administrative coming out of the December holidays. We have got to prepare pages and pages of handing over notes,” Dr Kibicho said on phone on Saturday.

In a note posted on the interior ministry’s website to be launched this week, Dr Juma talked of feeling “like a convict doing their last message or like a bride doing their farewell bid to her girlfriends.”

“In my professional and social bank account, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the high authorities embodied in his Excellency the President (Uhuru Kenyatta) for the confidence he continues to repose in me during his administration.

“I do not take it for granted that in under 36 months I have the unusual opportunity to serve a full circuit in the core of the national interest portfolios,” she said.

“I head to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and while I am not sure how long I shall serve there, it is my hope that my footprint will be visible on the sand. One cannot ask for a better boss, and Dr Kibicho will be in good guidance in this regard.”

She mentioned government improvement in response to terrorism cases since Garissa University attack, specialised operations at the Coast and north eastern regions, improved security during December holidays, successful hosting of WTO and world leaders like the Pope and President Obama as well as improved scheme of service for the police.

She initially worked at the Defence ministry in the same position but had been Kenya’s Ambassador to the African Union, Ethiopia, Djibouti and regional bloc IGAD during the Kibaki years.

Dr Kibicho on the other hand is a Mechanical Engineer who served as PS in Industrialisation Ministry during the Grand Coalition government. He previously taught in universities in Kenya and South Africa.

In his time at Foreign Affairs, the ministry successfully launched its foreign policy, opened embassies in Angola and Algeria and he says they managed to evacuate stranded Kenyans in conflict-hit Yemen and South Sudan.