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What Next for EAC After Mathuki’s Departure?

What Next for EAC After Mathuki’s Departure?
Embattled East African Community Secretary General, Peter Mathuki, who was recalled from his post by Kenyan leader, William Ruto. Image courtesy

Embattled East African Community top boss Peter Mathuki was recalled in March from his influential post in Arusha, and appointed as ambassador designate to Moscow.

Mathuki’s recall caught many regional actors by surprise, and a source within the regional body informed Kenyan Foreign Policy that the embattled secretary-general, a Kenyan national, may not have been aware of his new appointment by the time it was announced.

“The SG was in a meeting so this may have caught him off guard,” disclosed the source.

However, we also understand that Nairobi had been seeking ways to remove him from the position since president Ruto assumed office in September 2022.

Mathuki, who was endorsed by Kenya during Uhuru’s presidency in March 2021, faced accusations from his own home capital of funds misappropriation last year, prompting a regional leaders summit last November to call for a thorough audit.

Kenya’s Auditor General, Nancy Gathungu, who chairs the EAC Audit Commission, spent much of last December in Arusha, Tanzania alongside the audit commission, working tirelessly to investigate the allegations against the SG.

A report from the commission led by Gathungu is still pending release.

Kenyan Foreign Policy has consulted sources to uncover the reasons behind the intense conflict with the former EALA MP, now leading the EAC.


According to a senior source privy to the daily operations of the EAC, the issue revolves around his perceived snobbish and bossy personality, particularly among EALA MPs and staff at the secretariat based in Arusha.

It’s claimed he lacked a constructive approach in collaborating with other EAC organs including the regional parliament and the Deputy Secretary General who is a South Sudanese national.

This was supported by another source from the Kenyan EAC ministry who stated, “they didn’t find Mathuki effective,” noting his apparent lack of cooperation with Kenya.

A Kenyan senior career diplomat, who extensively worked with Peter Mathuki, stated off the record, “I am not in a position to comment on this man, except to say he is incompetent, and was completely out of his depth. And I would not be surprised if indeed, he was corrupt as well. My experience with him was very disappointing.”

Upset Kenyatta

In December 2022, President Kenyatta, who had retired in September that year, led a peace process to restore peace in eastern DRC, endorsed by regional leaders who appointed him as a peace facilitator.

A visibly upset Uhuru Kenyatta postponed the conclusion of the Nairobi Process 3 at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi due to allegations of underhand dealings in reimbursing participants.

This incident marked the beginning of Mathuki’s troubles.

President Kenyatta hinted at knowing the culprits but refrained from naming them, threatening to seek intervention at the highest level and urging the world not to fund the process due to sabotage.

While the issue seemed to fade after December 2022, it resurfaced last August, when a whistleblower alleged that Mathuki should be investigated for mismanagement of the regional body’s secretariat and potential corruption.

However, two Kenyan regional legislators approached by this outlet refrained from commenting on the issue, citing a conflict of interest and the sensitive nature of the matter.


This marks the first inaugural instance of a head of state recalling a sitting secretary-general who hasn’t completed their term, with Mathuki being the inaugural casualty.

It’s worth noting that Peter Mathuki’s appointment to the Arusha-based regional body secretariat was somewhat fortuitous.

According to the principles of rotation, South Sudan was initially slated to nominate a Secretary-General, but in 2021, Juba indicated they weren’t prepared, allowing Kenya to step in.

Additionally, the Deputy SG is a South Sudanese national being groomed to take over after Mathuki’s remaining term that will lapse next year.

In April 2014, while serving as an EALA MP, Peter Mathuki initiated a motion to impeach the speaker of the regional parliament, Margaret Zziwa, who is from Uganda.

The motion was based on allegations of misconduct, poor governance, inadequate leadership skills, abuse of office, disrespect, and intimidation of members and staff.

EAC Treaty

The treaty establishing the East African Community in Article 67 provides for the appointment of the SG by the Summit upon nomination by the relevant head of state under the principle of rotation.

However, the treaty is silent on recall of the SG by the nominating partner state.

“The removal of the SG before the expiry of his/her term is provided for under EAC staff rules and regulations, and I suppose through a fair administrative process,” said a source from the EAC

The source contends that the circumstances surrounding the outgoing SG are unprecedented.

Decisions in the summit are typically reached through consensus, and the summit’s quorum requires 100 percent representation.

In this scenario, if any member state opposes Nairobi’s nomination of Caroline Mwende Mueke, it will likely face obstacles.

Nairobi would need to engage in shuttle diplomacy to persuade the other seven regional capitals, including recently joined Mogadishu, to approve Kenya’s decision.

It remains unclear whether President Ruto made the decision to recall Mathuki in consultation with his regional peers.

However, what is evident is that the responsibility lies with the chair of the summit, South Sudanese leader Salva Kiir, to convene an urgent meeting to either approve or disapprove of the decision.

The SG is still in office until the summit of regional leaders convenes to determine his fate.

Mathuki, now Kenyan nominated as ambassador-designate to Moscow, Russia has been in Kinshasa escorting the South Sudanese leader Salva Kiir, who also chairs the regional bloc for a peace mission.

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