NAIROBI – Kenya’s Ambassador to China Mary Muthoni recalled less than an year since her posting alongside 21 others in May 2022.
Wu Peng, the Director-General of Department of African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday bid farewell to Ambassador Muthoni, who was appointed to the position in June 2022.
“I thanked her for her valuable contribution to the development of China-Kenya relations, and wish my dear sister Safari Njema (safe journey) and all the best in the future,” Wu said in a tweet.
The envoy only presented a copy of her credentials to Hong Lei, Director-General of the Protocol Department of the Foreign Ministry of China on August 15, 2022.
An ambassador’s tour of duty is usually four years.
Muthoni, 60, is a lawyer by profession and until her appointment by then President Uhuru Kenyatta, was the chairperson of the Retirement Benefits Appeals Tribunal.
While the retirement age is 60, there are exemptional cases, especially regarding retiring senior government and military officials, who are deployed for a term for a debrief.
Some political appointees also exceed the retirement age but are appointed on a contract.
During her vetting in May 2022, she emerged as the wealthiest in the team of the 21 appointees, putting her worth at Sh400 million.
Envoys posted in 2018 are also returning this month after the expiry of their terms. These include They include Cleopa Mailu (Switzerland, UN), Prof Judy Wakhungu (France), Willy Bett (India), Mohammed Shidiye (Botswana), Dan Kazungu (Tanzania) Phyllis Kandie (Unesco), Lt-Gen (Rtd) Samuel Thuita (Israel), Peter Ogego (Saudi Arabia), former DCI boss Ndegwa Muhoro (Malaysia) and Lazarus Amayo (Washington, career diplomat).
Those who were appointed by President Kenyatta in 2020 include Ambassador Martin Kimani (51) (United Nations in New York), Tom Amolo (Berlin, career diplomat), John Tipis (56) (Canberra, career diplomat), Immaculate Wambua (62) (Canada, career diplomat), Catherine Mwangi (64) (South Africa), Jean Kamau (Ethiopia), Lemarron Kaanto (Brazil), Daniel Wambura (51) (Burundi, career diplomat), Benson Ogutu (62) (Russia, Career diplomat), Tabu Irina (54) (Japan, career diplomat), Linday Kiptiness (54) (Thailand, career diplomat), Stella Munyi (54) (Zimbabwe), Jean Kamau (63) (AU, career diplomat) and Joshua Gatimu (62) (Iran), among others.
Last year Uhuru appointed former Clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai (Namibia), former ICT Principal Secretary Bitange Ndemo (Belgium) and Mary Mugwanja (Vienna, Austria), Gathoga Chege (Cuba), Salim Salim (Djibouti) and Maj Gen A.G. Matiiri (Egypt).
The recalling of Muthoni signals the start of diplomatic changes by President William Ruto, who came to power in September after the August 9, 2022 elections.
Foreign Affairs CS Alfred Mutua in January confirmed to The Nation that there would be changes but they “will be based on a clear and fair criterion and not punitive”.
Among those being recalled are six who have attained the retirement age of 60 years.
The Executive Order released early July listed 66 embassies and consulates across the world and this will offer President Ruto to appoint diplomats who will shape his foreign policy, and also reward allies who backed his presidential bid.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has warned that the new diplomats will have a tough job to seek markets for Kenya’s produce, and will sign a commitment towards that, and failure to attain set targets will result in a recall.