Kenyan President fires ministers over anti-tax protests

Kenya’s under-fire President William Ruto has dismissed with “immediate effect” all his ministers and the attorney-general, following the recent deadly protests that led to the withdrawal of an unpopular tax bill.

The president said the move came after “reflection, listening to Kenyans, and after holistic appraisal of my cabinet”.

He has said he will now consult widely in order to set up a broad-based government.

The dissolution of his cabinet does not affect the deputy president, who can’t legally be fired, and the prime cabinet secretary who is also the foreign affairs minister.

Mr Ruto said that government operations would continue uninterrupted under the supervision of senior civil servants.

He said he would consult “across different sectors and political formations and other Kenyans, both in public and private” over a new government, but did not say when it would be announced.

The dramatic move is highly unusual, coming less than two years after he took office.

Three of the sacked ministers were MPs before leaving their legislative roles to join the cabinet barely two years ago.

One of them is Aden Duale, who in a prompt post on X (formerly Twitter) thanked the president and said he would “forever be indebted to him and the people of Kenya for this opportunity to serve” as Kenya’s defence minister.

Last Thursday, President Ruto chaired a cabinet meeting which one of the local newspapers described as the “last supper” for the ministers.

Some of the ministers were linked to corruption scandals that led to the suspension of senior government officials within several ministries. But Mr Ruto had defended them, saying that there were no evidence to sack them.

Last October, Mr Ruto announced a mini-cabinet reshuffle that affected at least eight ministers.

The last time an entire cabinet was dissolved was in 2005 when then President Mwai Kibaki did so shortly after losing a referendum over a new constitution.

Mr Ruto has been under pressure from Kenyans who have continued holding anti-government protests and demanding more accountability from government, even though he agreed to withdraw his controversial tax rises.

Some of the protesters have been calling for the president to go.

Last week, Mr Ruto announced a number of austerity measures across various government agencies.

He also ordered a freeze in proposed pay rises for members of his cabinet and parliament following a public outcry.

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