Kenya's President Ruto

Kenya’s President Ruto Fires Almost Entire Cabinet Amid Protests

Kenya's President Ruto

Kenyan President William Ruto has dismissed nearly his entire cabinet following a series of anti-government demonstrations, CNN reported on Thursday.

Only Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi remain in their respective positions, Ruto confirmed.

The decision was made “upon reflection, and a holistic appraisal” of his cabinet, he informed reporters from State House Nairobi.

“Even with the progress we’ve made, I’m acutely aware that the people of Kenya have very high expectations of me, and they believe that this administration can undertake the most extensive transformation in our nation’s history,” he stated, CNN reported.

Following the introduction of a bill in May that aimed to raise taxes and alleviate Kenya’s substantial debt, the country witnessed a wave of anti-government protests. At least 39 people reportedly lost their lives in clashes with police in June, as documented by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, according to a New York Times report.

Human rights monitors and numerous activists, including five who recounted their experiences, have disclosed that at least 32 individuals, including activists, medical personnel, and social media influencers, were either abducted or detained without cause. Recently, a High Court judge denounced these incidents as “abductions” and ordered the police and the National Intelligence Service, which is overseen by the president, to cease such actions, citing constitutional violations.

During an interactive session on the social media platform X last Friday, President William Ruto was confronted by a political activist who detailed being assaulted by officers, having his home ransacked, and being forcibly taken to an undisclosed location. President Ruto expressed regret, stating, “If that is the treatment you have endured, I apologize. It is unacceptable.” He pledged to investigate these reported abductions and ensure that law enforcement adheres to legal protocols during arrests.

Meanwhile, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, increasingly marginalized by President Ruto, has accused the National Intelligence Service of orchestrating recent abductions and a series of extrajudicial killings in the previous year. According to Amnesty International, Kenya witnessed 136 extrajudicial executions in 2023, with numerous fatalities occurring in police custody, according to the NYT report.

The bill to increase taxes was passed by lawmakers on June 25 with the aim of generating revenue to address Kenya’s escalating debt. However, the legislation sparked widespread outrage among Kenyans who criticised government extravagance and the mounting cost of living. Protesters breached Parliament and set portions of it on fire, prompting a severe government crackdown that resulted in numerous injuries and detentions. President Ruto eventually rejected the bill the following day but calls for his resignation persisted among protesters.

On Friday, President Ruto initiated an audit of Kenya’s debt, announced reductions in government staffing and expenditures, and mandated retirements for government employees aged 60 and older.

Government officials have alleged that foreign powers funded the demonstrations, a claim vehemently denied by protesters who argue that the movement is driven by youth, devoid of central leadership, and transcends societal divisions, the New York Times reported. (ANI)

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