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Kibaki announces coalition government

Latest update : 2008-04-14

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki named a new power-sharing government, naming opposition leader Raila Odinga as prime minister. The move ends weeks of deadlock after the deadly crisis that followed the Dec. 27 elections. (Report: R. Tompsett)

NAIROBI, April 13 (Reuters) - Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki named a power-sharing cabinet on Sunday that made rival Raila Odinga prime minister, ending a deadlock which threatened the country’s economic rebound from a bloody post-election crisis.

 

“I am today announcing the cabinet of the grand coalition government,” Kibaki said in a live televised speech alongside Odinga, who had accused the president of rigging his Dec. 27 re-election.

 

The naming of a power-sharing cabinet is central to a deal to end the east African nation’s post-election crisis. More than 1,200 people died and 300,000 were uprooted in what became the country’s bloodiest episode independence in 1963.

 

“I want to thank you, my fellow Kenyans, for your tolerance and patience during this period... I’ll do everything possible to ensure that our country Kenya is steered along the path of peace, unity and stability,” Kibaki said.

 

Finance Minister Amos Kimunya retained his position in the new cabinet. He has said the crisis has forced Kenya to trim its growth forecast to 4.5-6.0 percent from a previous estimate of 6.9 percent.

 

Kenya’s shilling currency and stock market have been on the rebound since former U.N. chief Kofi Annan brokered a deal on Feb. 28 to create the coalition cabinet and launch a constitutional review to address long-simmering issues.

 

The election crisis exposed decades-old disputes, which degenerated into ethnic killings and riots that shattered Kenya’s image as a stable tourism and trade hub, with one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising economies.


 

“PUT ASIDE POLITICS”

 

Kibaki urged his new ministers to “put aside politics”.

 

“Let us build a new Kenya where justice is our shield and defender and where peace and liberty and plenty will be found throughout the country,” Kibaki said.

 

Uhuru Kenyatta from Kibaki’s coalition and Musalia Mudavadi of Odinga’s party were named deputy prime ministers.

 

William Ruto, a senior opposition figure despised by Kibaki backers who blame him for attacks on the president’s Kikuyu tribe during the crisis, was appointed agriculture minister.

 

Ruto, who hails from the Rift Valley which is Kenya’s agricultural breadbasket, denies any wrongdoing. John Michuki, a no-nonsense Kibaki ally equally disliked by Odinga supporters, was named environment minister.

 

The cabinet announcement brought a sense of relief and wariness to Kenyans, long used to the same cast of politicians enriching themselves from the public coffers.

 

The new cabinet includes several politicians accused of corruption in past administrations.

 

“I doubt they will be able to work together, since they tried and failed before, but I hope they will. This country is suffering,” said labourer John Muchiri.

 

Odinga was in Kibaki’s first cabinet after his election in 2002, but they fell out over a 2005 constitutional referendum.

 

Odinga, a former political prisoner and son of one of Kenya’s independence heroes, always accused Kibaki of reneging on a deal to make him prime minister in 2002. That sense of betrayal drove Odinga’s challenge to Kibaki at the 2007 poll.

 

Kibaki, 76, and Odinga, 63, made their breakthrough during secret talks on Saturday at a luxury lodge outside Nairobi.

 

They must now get down to the contentious work of drafting a new constitution within 12 months to address issues of land, wealth and power that have simmered for decades and which the election crisis exposed.

Date created : 2008-04-13

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