Ruto retains several envoys appointed by predecessor Uhuru in new changes

Mr Manoah Esipisu

Mr Manoah Esipisu (right) with his wife Waithegeni on a  horse carriage to Buckingham Palace where he presented to Queen Elizabeth letters of credence in 2018. He had been appointed High Commissioner to the United Kingdom by President Uhuru Kenyatta. He retains the position in the changes announced recently. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has retained more than 20 ambassadors appointed by his predecessor in a shake-up of the country’s diplomatic corps.

There were no changes in several missions in the recent nomination and redeployment of ambassadors and high commissioners. Two of Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s appointees were moved to new stations.

Diplomatic postings are largely political. There were expectations that the President would make major changes following a fallout with Mr Kenyatta in the run-up to the 2022 General Election. Some of the envoys retained were appointed at the height of the dispute.

The positions are largely seen as a reward to allies who miss out on Cabinet and Principal Secretary posts.

Several envoys have, however, been recalled and others replaced, including those appointed last year.

Ambassadors, high commissioners and consular representatives have a four-year tour of duty. This can, however, be extended by the appointing authority until they attain retirement age.

Mr Tabu Irina, who was sent to Japan by Mr Kenyatta in 2020, was redeployed by President Ruto to Ireland, last week.

Similarly, Mr Willy Bett who was named to head the New Delhi office in India in 2018, has been moved to China.

Mr Bett replaces Ms Mary Muthoni, who was recalled in March. She had been posted in China last year.

Among those retained in their stations are Mr Manoah Esipisu who was posted to the United Kingdom in 2018.

Former Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu remains in Switzerland, Prof Bitange Ndemo has been retained in Belgium while Mr George Owino continues to serve in Uganda.

Ms Flora Karugu (Zambia), Ms Stella Munyi (Zimbabwe), Mr Peter Angore (Algeria) and Ms Njambi Kinyungu (UN-Habitat) – all appointed by Mr Kenyatta in 2019 – remain at their stations.

Also retained are Ms Rose Makena Muchiri (United Nations Office, Nairobi), Mr Daniel Wambura (Burundi) and Ms Margaret Shava in the Netherlands.

Ms Shava was appointed by President Kenyatta in May last year. During her vetting, she denied being related to the former first family.

Others still in their stations are former National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai (Namibia), Ms Amina Abdalla (Oman), Ms Halima Mohamud (Kuwait), Mr Lazarus Amayo (New York), Ms Immaculate Wambua (Canada), Mr Kariuki Mugwe (Abu Dhabi), Ms Purity Muhindi (Senegal) and Mr Eliphas Barine in Ghana.

Building Bridges Initiative Secretary Martin Kimani remains Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi – whose mandate has been expanded to include Foreign and Diaspora Affairs – yesterday requested for time to give a comment on the changes.

His Principal Secretary, Korir Sing’oei, did not respond to our queries on the extent of the changes made in the missions since Dr Ruto became President in September last year.

The Saturday Nation shared with the office the list of “retained” envoys for confirmation but had not received any response by the time of going to press.

The list was shared with State House Spokesperson Hussein Mohammed, who failed to respond.

In a past interview with the Daily Nation, Dr Sing’oei said the Kenya Kwanza administration “is not on a revenge mission or unfair treatment”.

“An ambassador serves a maximum of 48 months. About 20 have exceeded this period and will be recalled. Unless in exceptional circumstances, those who have attained retirement age will be recalled. There are about six in this category,” he said.

“Ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the President and so it is possible some...could be recalled.”

In the recent changes, the President recalled Ms Mwende Mwinzi who was posted to South Korea amid a dispute over her dual citizenship. She was replaced by Prof Emmy Jerono Kipsoi.

Prof Judi Wakhungu was recalled from France in June, with the President now nominating Ms Betty Chebet Cherwon to take her position.

Mr Michael Mubea (Ireland) has been replaced by Mr Irina, Ms Diana Kiambuthi (Sweden) replaced by Ms Angeline Kavindu Musili, Jean Kamau (Ethiopia) replaced by Mr George Morara Orina, Ms Catherine Mwangi Muigai (South Africa) replaced by Ms Jane Wairimu) and Mr Jeremy Ndola replaces Mr Samuel Nandwa in South Sudan.

Mr Kenyatta nominated former MP Dennis Waweru to replace Mr George Masafu as Kenya’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2022. Mr Waweru, however, declined the offer.

It was not clear if Mr Masafu remained in office until the current changes. President Ruto has now nominated Mr Shem Amadi to take up the position.

In other changes, Mr Mohamed Shidiye (Botswana) has been replaced by Sibdio Dido, Mr Andrew Ikenye – who was sent to Nigeria last year – has been replaced by Mr Isaac Keen Parashina, Mr Thomas Chebukato (Somalia) has been replaced by former Igembe Central MP Kiringo Kubai and Ms Mercy Mueni replaces Mr Isaac Njenga in Arusha, Tanzania.

Mr Clement Nzomo, who was sent to Angola last year, has been replaced by Ms Joyce Khasimwa M’maitsi, Ms Mary Mogwanja who was posted to Austria has been replaced by Mr Maurice Makoloo while Mr Boniface Mwilu who has served for barely two years paves the way for Mr Mohamed Nur Adan.

Mr Michael Oyugi (Spain) has been replaced by Ms Nairimas Sharon while former Directorate of Criminal Investigations head Ndegwa Muhoro is returning home from Malaysia after being replaced by Mr John Ronald Ekitela. Mr Muhoro flew to Malaysia in 2018.

In a recent interview, National Assembly Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations Chairman – Nelson Koech – said there is need to have professional diplomats named ambassadors instead of politicians.

“It is time to have professionals head the missions in line with the ruling United Democratic Alliance and Kenya Kwanza’s foreign policy. This will boost the country’s relationships abroad,” Mr Koech said.

He added that it was unfortunate that the positions have been reduced to a preserve of failed politicians.

“As a committee, we would wish to see experts appointed to these positions to spur economic development,” he said.