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Uhuru names crucial power handover team

President Uhuru Kenyatta shows off his certificate after his swearing-in ceremony in Nairobi. [DPPS]

As President Uhuru Kenyatta’s terms hurtle to the finish line in the next 32 days, focus turns on 18 men and one woman who will facilitate a smooth handover of power to the next president.

The list, designated by law as “the transition committee” comprises of the who is who in President Kenyatta’s core team.

Led by Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua, the team has one woman, Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi, thus far. Three members may very likely be women if they are appointed by the President-elect in accordance with the law.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) cleared Deputy President William Ruto (United Democratic Alliance), Raila Odinga (Azimio la Umoja One Kenya), Prof George Wajackoyah (Roots Party) and David Mwaure (Agano Party) to vie for the presidency. 

The committee’s activities are anchored under the Assumption of office President Act, No. 21 of 2012. The assumption of office provisions were enshrined in Article 141 of the Constitution following the chaos of 2007 election. The Article gave Parliament the powers to enact the legislation providing for the procedure and ceremony for the swearing-in of the a president-elect. 

“There is established a committee to be known as the Assumption of the Office of President Committee. The committee shall be an ad hoc committee and shall consist of— the Secretary to the Cabinet who shall be the chairperson, the Attorney-General, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry responsible for matters relating to the registration of persons and immigration,” reads the Act.

Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The transition committee oversaw the 2013 transition, as well as the 2017 re-election of President Kenyatta.

In 2013, then Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia, now governor Kirinyaga, chaired the committee.

Kinyua, who led the 2017 one will coordinate the briefings of the president-elect by the relevant public officers, facilitate communication between the outgoing president and the president-elect and prepare the programme and organise the swearing-in ceremony.

Others in the team are Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai, Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi and the National Intelligence Service Director Philip Kameru.

Others are State House Comptroller Kinuthia Mbugua, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, Principal Secretaries Jerome Ochieng (Information, Communications and Technology), Julius Muia (National Treasury), Macharia Kamau (Foreign Affairs), Julius Korir (Devolution), Joe Okudo (Sport) and Solicitor General Ken Ogeto.

Anchored in law

“The committee is anchored in law and is not a secret. It’s a function of the law. As and whenever we convene, we will keep the country informed,” Ogeto told The Standard yesterday.

While the committee members are appointed by the virtue of the offices they hold, some of them have been caught up in the politics of the fallout between DP Ruto and President Kenyatta. 

Mutyambai, Matiang’i, Kibicho and Kameru have been on the crosshairs of Ruto over one thing or the other not related to the committee. Recently, the DP issued one of the most scathing attacks against Mutyambai over his leadership of the police docket. Ruto’s team has complained of CSs’ involvement in politics as well as Kibicho’s references to Kameru’s briefs in the political context. The CS’s have refuted the claims, citing their role, law and function of the offices they hold.

Interior CS Fred Matiangi (left), PS Karanja Kibicho(centre) and IG Hillary Mutyambai. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

In May, Garissa Township MP Aden Duale questioned the failure to appoint the Secretary to the Cabinet, a position he said plays a crucial role in the power transition after polls.

“Honourable Speaker, as it is presently, there is no person holding the Office of the Secretary to the Cabinet in terms of Article 154 of the Constitution. The Assumption of the Office of the President Act No. 21 of 2012 clearly stipulates that the leadership of the committee is to be headed by the Secretary to the Cabinet,” Duale’s letter reads in part. The MP asked the Speaker to compel the chairperson of the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs (JLAC) to provide a statement with answers since the Secretary to the Cabinet should be approved by Parliament which was due to adjourn.

The two Clerks of Parliament (National Assembly and the Senate), as well as the Secretary to the Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat, will also sit in the transition committee. The quorum for the conduct of the business at a meeting of the committee is two-thirds of members.

The committee will be expected to ensure the Inspector-General of the National Police Service provides security to the president-elect and his deputy during the period they have been declared winners of the August 9 election.

Currently, IEBC is supposed to ensure that Ruto, Raila, Prof Wajackoyah and Mwaure and their running mates receive security until the date of election and any harm on any of the eight persons will lead to a postponement of the election for another two months.