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Kenya Replaces Agriculture Minister Ruto in Reshuffle

Kenyan Agriculture Minister William Ruto was replaced in a Cabinet reshuffle, the presidency said, amid a probe into corruption involving a corn re-export program.

Sally Kosgei, a member of Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement and former head of the country’s civil service, will take over from Ruto, President Mwai Kibaki’s office said in an e-mailed statement today from Nairobi, the capital. Ruto becomes minister of higher education, it said, without providing reasons for the move.

Odinga has repeatedly clashed with Ruto in recent months, as the latter seeks to profile himself as a challenger for the presidency in elections due in 2012, Gus Selassie, an analyst with London-based Global Insight, said in an interview

“Moving Ruto to a lesser ministry might be Odinga’s way of reminding him that Ruto’s not untouchable,” Selassie said in a phone interview. “I think he probably didn’t fire him, so that he feels he has some control over him. If he’s outside of government, Ruto can openly attack him.”

Odinga suspended Ruto in February to allow the investigation into the graft scandal, which involved the re-export of grain to Southern Sudan, to be completed. Kibaki overruled the decision hours later, saying that Odinga exceeded his authority by ordering the suspension. Ruto has denied any wrongdoing and last year won a vote of no confidence in parliament over the matter.

Kibaki agreed to share power with Odinga two years ago after a disputed presidential election sparked violence that killed 1,500 people and displaced another 300,000.

Kibaki also announced today that Trade Minister Amos Kimunya will take on the transport portfolio, which became vacant when the election of Chiaru Ali Mwakwere was nullified earlier this year. Kiprono Magerer was appointed assistant energy minister, replacing Charles Keter.

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