African Press International (API)

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Posted by African Press International on August 3, 2008

By Sunday Standard Team

President Kibakis final day in office could be some four years away but not so the jostling for his shoes. The succession game is not just playing out within the Presidents Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement.

The ripple effect is being felt in the higher cadres of the Civil Service, especially within the security class that steered the country as it stumbled through a flawed election and subsequent blood letting.

On Thursday the cast perceived to be repositioning itself for 2012s return march, met in private under the chairmanship of the Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura. Present were the Director General of National Security Intelligence Service Major-General Michael Gichangi, Police Commissioner Major-General Hussein Ali and Administration Police Commandant Kinuthua Mbugua who has just earned himself a two-year contract.

Mbugua was expected to retire last month, after attaining the mandatory retirement age of 55, for civil servants.

Also present was Mr Francis Kimemia, the Office of the President technocrat who was elevated to Permanent Secretary for Internal Security in Kibakis second term, and Youth Affairs PS Mr Mburugu Kinuthia.

The agenda, on the face value, was the replacement of the besieged Prison Commandant Gilbert Omondi, who could be ejected as early as next week. Key faces absent in the meeting, and who traditionally are instrumental in transition, were the Attorney General Amos Wako, Chief Justice Evan Gicheru and the Chief of General Staff General Jeremiah Kianga.

The meeting was not, however, one such that they had to be, for it was just one cog in the wheel. But it is to these offices that the nation will look up to, apart from the elective positions, for a smooth transition. It is on their shoulders, or that of their replacements, that the task of averting the kind of violence that took Kenya to the precipice of a civil war early in the year, is avoided.

Informed sources, however, say this is the non-political brotherhood that influence, if not manage the Kibaki succession, albeit on the sideline, and in the boardroom. That would however depend on whether their contracts would be extended when they lapse.

Appointed in 2002 Muthaura, 62, was to have quit the Civil Service seven years ago, but closeness with the President has earned him successive renewals of his contract, the last being last year. There are no signs he is about to bow out, even as others are ejected when they approach retirement age.

Gichangi, 50, has a security of tenure and though appointed in 2006, his current contract lapses in 2010, but he is entitled to a renewal.

Ali, 52, crossed over from the military in 2004 to head the police. Though his contract was renewed, it is not clear when it hits the rock bottom.

Born in 1950 and appointed to head the military in 2005, Kiangas tenure lapses next August, but could in the precedent set by his predecessor General Joseph Kibwana, accept a shorter contract against the so-called Tonje rules in the Force.

The rules require a general retires at 58 or after serving four years, whichever comes first.

Born in 1945, and now aged with a security of tenure, the Constitution is silent on when the AG should retire. But he could go on his volition, but also following recommendation by a tribunal.

Born in 1942, Gicheru who is now 65 enjoys security of tenure like other members of the Bench until the age of 74. He is therefore due to for retirement in 2017. In all likelihood the two shall be in office as Kenyans prepare for a fourth President.

Kimemia who took over from Mr Cyrus Gituai, is a younger face, and even though his profile could not be downloaded from the Government website, he could be in his late 40s. He could therefore, unless he is moved, be one of the key managers of the coming transition. It cannot be ruled out that Mbugua could, like Muthaura, get another extension after 2010. The AP, which he commands, was mentioned adversely in connection with alleged rigging claims in the last election.

Electoral Commission of Kenya, being the oversight body, could be reformed in the coming constitutional review, amid accusations it has structural weaknesses that nearly took the country to war. Part of the reforms could target about 20 of 22 commissioners whose five-year contracts were unilaterally renewed by the President, against the 1997 Inter-Party Parliamentary Group agreement. But even if their tenures are not affected, it will still be the Presidents discretion in 2010 to appoint a new cast or renew their contracts.

ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu is on a shorter term, and may not oversee the elections of the fourth President.

But if the tradition that saw him in 1997 take over from the late Justice Chesoni whom he deputised, then Mr Kihara Muttu, the Presidents former family lawyer, could succeed Kivuitu.

New prisons boss

When the top guns met on Thursday night, we are reliably informed, the name of Mr George McAGoye was floated as a suitable replacement for Omondi.

McAgoye was at one point tipped to take over from Mbugua, but was transferred to Public Works Ministry as an under secretary.

His possible appointment at the Prisons Department will further push him away from the now sought after position of the AP Commandant.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka under whom the Prisons Department falls, and who is touted as the possible presidential candidate for PNU in 2012, is expected by the Office of the President and security technocrats to endorse McAgoye. This will be followed by formal appointment any time this week by President Kibaki.

But a confidante of the VP said they already have another person in mind.

The changes in this arm of security were set on course by last weeks release of a report by a team appointed to probe the mess in the department.

This week, Ministry of Defence is expected to issue a ministerial statement in Parliament on allegations of political interference, nepotism, cronyism and skewed promotions in the military.

The Government was asked by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale, whether it is alive to the possible consequences of discontent within the military.

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Published by Chief Editor Korir, African Press International – API/ Source.standard.ke

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