End to crisis as Kenya names 40-member cabinet

April 14th, 2008 - 12:16 am ICT by admin  

Nairobi, April 13 (DPA) Kenya’s bickering leaders announced a 40-member coalition cabinet Sunday after weeks of wrangling, diffusing tensions and bringing the East African country back from the brink a second time. Tensions had mounted over the creation of a coalition government since President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga signed a peace deal in February that ended a vicious spate of post-election violence that killed more than 1,000 people.

Kibaki and Odinga spent Saturday at a remote resort to hash out differences over key ministries and announced a large 40-member cabinet but it was unclear how the deal was struck after so much disagreement.

“I know that you have all been anxious to see the conclusion of the consultations on the formation of the new coalition government… I am today announcing the cabinet of the grand coalition government,” Kibaki said, flanked by former rival Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.

As expected, Kibaki named Odinga as prime minister and unveiled two deputy prime ministers from each of the leaders’ parties, as part of a reconciliation deal brokered earlier this year.

Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) retained most of the ministerial posts Kibaki named in January at the height of the crisis, ceding the key ministries of lands, roads and local government to Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

Kibaki and Odinga differed on how many ministers the cabinet should hold, with ODM suggesting no more than 34 but giving in to the PNU’s demand for 40.

Activists have chided Kibaki for the bloated number, accusing him of inflating the posts to appease his supporters, but he has insisted the cabinet must reflect “the face of Kenya” and be representative of its diversity.

Several new ministries were created, some of which seemed to overlap with others.

The cabinet crisis was feared to disrupt the steps toward peace the country has made since the violent clashes that broke out over disputed elections in December, with protestors in Kenya’s largest slum last week demanding an end to the stalemate.

The post-election crisis tarnished the ordinarily stable East African nation’s reputation as a beacon of peace and democracy in a troubled region.

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