Uhuru Cabinet split after Ruto assassination claims

Cabinet Secretaries Sicily Kariuki (Health) Joe Mucheru (ICT) and Peter Munya (Industrialization) address a press conference outside DCI offices on Kiambu Road shortly after meeting detectives over claims of an assassination plot against DP Ruto. [David Njaaga,Standard]

A major split is emerging in the Cabinet amid reports that President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the police to probe claims of a plot to assassinate his deputy, William Ruto.

Reports indicate that the order came after the Deputy President told the President that he had been informed that some Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries and parastatal bosses from Mt Kenya region had met to plot his political downfall and assassination.

Following the claims, the President is said to have ordered the DP’s security scaled up. The DP has since received more security.

The President is said to have summoned a meeting at State House on Saturday, which was attended by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and National Intelligence Service Director General Philip Kameru.

State House

According to highly placed sources, the President informed the meeting that the DP had told him that some CSs, PSs and parastatal bosses from Mt Kenya had met at Hotel La Mada along Thika Road to plot against him.

He then ordered that all those mentioned as part of the La Mada Hotel meeting be summoned to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to assist in investigations.

More than 10 Government officials presented themselves before the DCI. But they refused to be questioned until the Deputy President had recorded a statement to back his complaint.

Other sources revealed that the DP refused to record a statement on the matter, making it difficult for police to proceed with investigations.

CSs Peter Munya (Trade), Joseph Mucheru (ICT), and Sicily Kariuki (Health), at least six PSs, and heads of parastatals confirmed that they were summoned following a letter circulating on social media detailing a 'suspicious' meeting at Hotel La Mada.

According to the letter whose author and authenticity could not be immediately established, part of the meeting's agenda was said to be an offensive against the DP.

In the letter addressed to "Your Excellency", the author or authors sought permission to be exempted from attendance as they did not want to be part of the political conspiracy.

Apart from the three, CS James Macharia is also listed in the letter as among those in attendance.

The DCI is yet to determine the authenticity of the letter.

Yesterday, the leaders arrived at DCI headquarters shortly before 9am as ordered before they walked out an hour later.

Addressing the media, they said that upon honouring the summons, they were informed that Ruto had made a phone call alleging that they, among other senior Government officials, were planning to assassinate him.

They, however, said that they were unable to record statements at the DCI since there was no written complaint besides the said phone call.

“We have gone through the allegations and there is no written allegation recorded in the OB. What they have is a purported letter that has been circulating in the social media. We told them we could not respond to that kind of a letter,” said Mr Munya.

He continued: “They have confirmed to us that the DP made a call and complained that some Cabinet secretaries and some other Government officers have been meeting at La Mada and gave us a specific date of May 14, and that (in the) meeting there were plans that were being hatched to kill him."

The Trade CS described the claims as serious.

“These are very serious allegations especially coming from a person of the stature of a DP occupying an extremely powerful and important office in the land. I would expect somebody in that office to do a proper investigation before making unsubstantiated and wild allegations of that nature,” he said.

He ruled out recording a statement on the matter until the proper procedure was followed.

“We have not been able to record any statement because the standard procedure is that if somebody makes an allegation of that nature, that person is required by law to record a statement. The DP has not recorded any statement,” said Munya.

According to Munya, the DCI agreed with the leaders' concerns.

“We came to a conclusion and agreement with them that we can’t record any statement at this stage until the complainant makes a substantive complaint in writing against which then we can be able to respond,” he said.

Denied claims

The leaders denied the claims against them.

“We have made it clear that at no time have we ever met to plan to kill the DP or any other person for that matter,” said Munya.

“It is irresponsible, unfair and intended to portray us in a bad light so that we look like criminals who meet to plot criminal activities against him. This is intended to injure our reputations,” he said.

Munya confirmed that a group of leaders from Mt Kenya region held a meeting at Hotel La Mada in May but denied that the DP was on the agenda.

“To avoid speculation, we want to confirm that we have been having meetings. Indeed we held a meeting at La Mada and will continue having meetings. There is nothing sinister or unusual for people from a particular region of this country to discuss their affairs. There were never meetings planned to assassinate the DP," he said.

The CS explained that the meetings arose from another meeting of MPs from Mount Kenya region in Naivasha who complained that CSs, PSs, senior Government officials and heads of parastatals were not accessible, and that the Government was not fast-tracking development in the region.

According to Munya, a subsequent meeting was convened in Nyeri where the MPs presented their complaints to Uhuru.

“In that meeting the President instructed me to coordinate and get issues from the MPs and then coordinate the side of government so that I could be able to channel those issues to the relevant ministers, PSs and heads of parastatals,” he said

Munya said the CSs were still open to working with the DP to achieve Government objectives, and that they would await completion of investigations before deciding on their next move.

"The cyber-crime investigators are still investigating the matter and as law abiding citizens, we shall wait for the outcome then take the necessary actions either individually or collectively,” he said.