In Summary
  • In place of Prof Muigai will be Justice Paul Kihara Kariuki, the tall, bespectacled, soft-spoken President of the Court of Appeal.

  • He will need to be approved by Parliament for the position.

  • Justice Kariuki had been touted as a front-runner in the jostling for the post of Chief Justice in 2016.

President Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday purged the State’s top legal team following the resignation of Attorney-General Githu Muigai and the re-deployments of two other top advisors, surrounding himself with a clique of hardliners and loyal friends.

In place of Prof Muigai will be Justice Paul Kihara Kariuki, the tall, bespectacled, soft-spoken President of the Court of Appeal.

He will need to be approved by Parliament for the position.

LEGACY

This appointment, alongside that of the President’s long time-friend Ken Ogeto — proposed as the new Solicitor-General to replace Njee Muturi, now named deputy chief of staff — shows that Mr Kenyatta has left nothing to chance on the men he wants to surround himself with in his legacy-driven second term.

Justice Kariuki, Mr Ogeto, and Mr Muturi will join no-nonsense Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, the conservative State House comptroller Kinuthia Mbugua, and Mr Nzioka Waita, the Chief of Staff and Head of the President’s Delivery Unit, bringing to fore President Kenyatta’s intentions of a ruthless delivery run by a circle of friends he trusts.

“With this re-organisation, President Kenyatta wanted to start on a clean slate on the people around him, and especially his advisers,” a State House insider told the Nation.

CHIEF JUSTICE

Justice Kariuki had been touted as a front-runner in the jostling for the post of Chief Justice in 2016 and was seen as a safe pair of hands for an administration that had had run-ins with the Judiciary under the activist-turned-Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

The appointment of Mr Ogeto — a close friend of Mr Kenyatta who represented him at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and in various other cases in the country — to deputise Justice Kariuki at Sheria House also shows the kind of legal advice the President is seeking to get.

In the changes made Tuesday, Mr Abdikadir Mohamed, the President’s adviser on constitutional affairs, has been named ambassador to South Korea.

The new men at State House join a growing circle that also includes Dr Fred Matiang’i, who has in recent weeks run Harambee House with a particular sense of ruthlessness.

DELIVERY UNIT

The other is Mr Waita, who was head-hunted from Safaricom and was recently promoted to chief of staff and head of the president’s delivery unit.

Mr Waita has been at the heart of President Kenyatta’s project-driven legacy and won respect for his quiet effectiveness.

Mr Muturi, on the other hand, is a personal friend of the President and has served him from the time the Mr Kenyatta joined elective politics in 2002. His father, Muturi wa Njee, served Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in the same capacity.

The place of Mr Muturi at the heart of President Kenyatta, and by extension his administration, manifested in late 2014 when the government proposed a controversial security Bill that was seen by many as draconian and anti-media freedom.

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