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Hits and misses: What President William Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua got up to, a week in office

President William Ruto with his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua in Karen, Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

It is exactly a week since President William Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua were sworn into office at a ceremony held at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

The Standard revisits the duo’s in-tray, one week after publicly taking oath as the country’s top bosses.

Immediately after his inaugural speech on September 13, President Ruto signed an Executive Order appointing six new judges who his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta had declined to appoint in 2019.

A day later, the six; Aggrey Muchelule, Vincent Odunga, Joel Ngugi and Weldon Korir were sworn in as judges of the Court of Appeal and Evans Kiago and Cheruiyot Omange as judges of the Environment and Land Court.

 “To further demonstrate my commitment to the Independence of the judiciary, I will appoint the six judges already nominated for appointment to the Court of Appeal which was done three years ago by the Judicial service commission,’’ Ruto said in his inaugural speech.

The Head of State would for the next few days be swamped, meeting envoys at State House Nairobi including delegations from Germany, Ameria, Cuba, China, Serbia, Egypt, Algeria, Congo, South sudan, Somalia, Eswatini, and United Nations among others.

Ruto would pledge commitment and cooperation with various countries as he tightens his diplomatic belt.

But it wasn’t all a bed of roses as he [Ruto] came under sharp criticism following his stance on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

A day after the inauguration, President Ruto revoked Kenya's recognition of Sahrawi as an independent State after receiving a congratulatory message from Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. Sahrawi’s president Brahim Ghali attended Ruto’s inauguration.

"Kenya rescinds its recognition of the SADR and initiates steps to wind down the entity’s presence in the country," Ruto tweeted, adding that Kenya supports the United Nations framework as the exclusive mechanism for addressing the Sahrawi dispute.

The tweet would later be deleted, prompting confusion.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would days later clarify the issue in a letter addressed to all heads of mission and directorate. "Kenya's position on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is fully aligned with the decision of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to admit for the unquestionable and inalienable right of a people to self-determination," an internal note notice that has since been denounced by Foreign Affairs Ministry stated.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua also commented on the issue stating that clarification had been issued regarding Nairobi's position on the Sahrawi conflict, maintaining that it correlates with that of the African Union and the UN. SADR is a member state of the AU.

Three days after being sworn into office, Ruto and Gachagua would lead the Kenya Kwanza Parliamentary Group meeting in Naivasha, Nakuru County where the president explained his reasons for scrapping the fuel subsidy, terming it unsustainable and that it failed to achieve its intended purpose.

The move, Ruto said, will save Sh14.7 billion of taxpayers’ money. 

However, the President said his government will not subsidize consumption, dimming the hopes of millions of Kenyans who were waiting for the unga subsidy.

“We are going to work and support producers. It is not how much money you spend but where you spend it to get value for every coin,” he said.

Ruto made his first foreign trip on September 18, as the President of Kenya. Accompanied by First Lady Racheal Ruto, he traveled to London, United Kingdom, where he attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

He later joined other world leaders for a reception at Buckingham Palace.

President William Ruto at Buckingham Palace with His Majesty King Charles III, London, United Kingdom. [Twitter]

“Rachel and I attended a reception at Buckingham Palace for Heads of State in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II hosted by His Majesty King Charles III before the burial in London, United Kingdom,” he tweeted on Monday.

He is later tomorrow, Wednesday, expected to give his debut address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA.

Ruto was last at the Assembly in 2016 when he represented Kenya while serving as Deputy President.