NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Civil Service chief ambassador Francis Muthaura have bowed to mounting pressure and stepped aside from their positions following indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
A statement from the Presidential Press Service on Thursday afternoon indicated that Francis Kimemia is now the acting head of the civil service and secretary to the Cabinet, while Metropolitan Minister Njeru Githae will act as Finance Minister.
“The president has accepted the decision by Kenyatta to step aside as the Minister for Finance. However, he will retain the position of Deputy Prime Minister in accordance with the Constitution,” the statement indicated.
According to the National Accord that established the coalition government following the disputed presidential poll in 2007, the position of Deputy Prime Minister can only become vacant, “if the holder of the office dies, resigns or ceases to be a member of the National Assembly.”
The accord further states that “the Deputy Prime Minister also can be removed if two thirds majority of MPs pass a vote of no confidence against him or if the coalition is dissolved.”
President Kibaki has also picked Mutea Iringo to act as the Permanent Secretary for Provincial Administration and Internal Security, to replace Kimemia.
Iringo has been a senior official in the Ministry of Provincial Administration and Internal Security.
The changes in government come in the wake of a spirited campaign especially from the civil society asking Kenyatta and Muthaura to step aside after the ICC Pre-Trial chamber confirmed charges of crimes against humanity levelled against them.
Each of them is facing five counts of crimes against humanity following the 2008 post election violence which left over 1,300 people dead and another 500,000 displaced.
A day after the ICC ruling was issued, Attorney General Githu Muigai insisted that the two officials would not be asked to quit their senior public positions until an appeal they plan to lodge in The Hague is determined.
However, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo has been adamant that the two needed to step aside for the duration of their trial.
Kilonzo’s position was on Wednesday supported by the Law Society of Kenya and a number of civil society organisations.