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Ruto's securocrats hark back to the Moi era

Scores are being settled as the new president orders probes of his predecessor's aides

A late night police raid at the home of Fred Matiang'i former Cabinet Secretary in the Interior Ministry, on 8 Feburary is the latest and highest profile case of the new government's campaign against allies of former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

During last year's election campaign, William Ruto had complained that some of Kenyatta's aides had tried to block his path to the presidency (AC Vol 63 No 22, A different kind of cronyism & Vol 63 No 18, Kenyatta's securocrats cast into the cold). For older Kenyans, the raid on Matiang'i's house echoed the intimidation tactics used against political opponents by former President Daniel arap Moi.

Matiang'i had been tipped by some as a successor to Uhuru Kenyatta. But his reputation as a technocrat and lack of any significant support base saw him instead emerge as one of the most voluble ministerial voices backing Azimio la Umoja's Raila Odinga in the elections.

That, coupled with his department's investigations and prosecutions of Ruto allies accused of corruption, made Matiang'i an early casualty of Ruto's purge of Kenyatta's securocrats. It also pushed out the chief of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti.

Several members of the DCI's Special Service Unit have been arrested and detained pending further investigations and possible charges.

Matiang'i was not arrested after police surrounded his home in the plush Karen surburb of Nairobi. But his lawyers have obtained anticipatory bail for Sh200,000 ($2,000) following reports that he may be arrested ahead of a formal hearing on 23 February.

Matiang'i says that he has been warned that he is to be arrested by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and charged with abuse of office. He adds that his security detail was reduced after he criticised the Ruto government at a gathering at the home of the late former Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha. Later, ex-President Kenyatta's security detail was cut although Ruto has appointed him as Kenya's special envoy for the Great Lakes and the Horn.

Cutting the security details of political rivals has become a common tactic by Kenya's presidents. Before the elections last year, the Kenyatta administration cut the public protection detail for Ruto, who was then Deputy President and clashing with the President.

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