A year later after he was appointed as a minister, the role of Moses Kuria, Kenya’s Investments, Trade, and Industry Cabinet Secretary, has been under increasing scrutiny.
Recent events, including his notable absence during critical trade and investment discussions in the United States, has triggered speculations about his future within President William Ruto’s administration.
The president has not yet purged any official at ministerial level since he clocked one year in office, but has reshuffled and fired principal secretaries, and parastatal bosses.
Kuria’s tenure as Trade Minister has been marked by controversy and a series of clashes with various stakeholders. Notably, his public spat with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua over rising fuel prices last week brought to the forefront the deep divisions within the government. Kuria’s sharp criticism of Gachagua, accusing him of resorting to “voodoo economics,” laid bare the internal tensions within the ruling party.
The most recent cause for concern came during President Ruto’s visit to Silicon Valley in the United States, a high-profile opportunity for trade and investment talks. Instead of accompanying the president, Kuria opted to remain in Kenya, a decision that puzzled many observers.
President Ruto, during the business forum, was accompanied by his economic advisor and former Trade minister, Adan Mohamed, who was introduced as “Cabinet Secretary,” a role usually held by the relevant cabinet secretary. This move raised eyebrows about Kuria’s diminishing influence in trade relations.
When Kenyan Foreign Policy reached out to the U.S State Department to inquire about whether Kuria’s visa had been denied by Washington, a spokesperson from the U.S Embassy in Kenya responded, “Visa records are confidential under U.S law, therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases,”.
The response further noted that, “All visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis,”.
This diplomatic sidelining follows a previous incident in July when the United States Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, visited Kenya. During her visit, two planned meetings with Moses Kuria, the Kenyan trade minister, were abruptly canceled.
The reason cited by the US official was Kuria’s reputation for using abrasive language against individuals and institutions.
The minister’s diplomatic isolation occurs at a time when the United States is actively courting Kenya, and the current leader, has been viewed as America’s ‘Mr. Nice Guy’.
Shift in Office Location
Surprisingly, the Head of Public Service, Felix Koskei, chose to return the Ministry of Trade offices from the opulent Two Rivers Mall, according to KFP sources, where Minister Kuria had established himself, to their former location in the NSSF building, a change that highlights a possible shift in the minister’s sphere of influence.
Kenya-UK MoU Signing
Kuria’s absence during the signing of a significant memorandum of understanding between Kenya and the UK on Wednesday evening further fueled speculation about his standing within the government.
Despite the presence of Britain’s Prime Minister’s Trade envoy, Theo Clarke, who was tasked with unlocking trading barriers and promoting business integrity, the Trade Minister was conspicuously missing. His absence raised questions about his role in trade negotiations and relations.
Investments PS Abubakar Hassan Abubakar signed the MoU on behalf of Kenya.
Kuria’s role in President Ruto’s inner circle comes under increasing observation, many are wondering about his future within the government. The mounting evidence of disconnection and strained relationships he has created raises the question of whether his days as Trade Minister are numbered.
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