Odinga named as PM in Kenyan coalition cabinet

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The Independent Online

President Mwai Kibaki named Raila Odinga as Prime Minister yesterday, implementing a long-awaited power-sharing deal that the rivals signed more than a month ago to resolve a protracted political crisis.

Mr Kibaki unveiled the 40 cabinet ministers, a day after holding closed-door talks with Mr Odinga, leader of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement.

The two leaders had agreed in February to share power after a dispute over who won Kenya's December presidential elections erupted in violence that killed at least 1,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

They had pledged to announce a joint government on the 6 April after parliament approved their power-sharing accord in March – but could not agree on the make-up of the cabinet, with both sides trying to secure the most powerful portfolios. Kenyans also protested at the size of the proposed cabinet, objecting to having 40 ministers in the government.

But Mr Kibaki, in a speech broadcast live on television yesterday, presented a cabinet in which the ministries are split equally between his Party of National Unity and its allied parties, and Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement.

He named Musalia Mudavadi, the second in command in Mr Odinga's party, as deputy prime minister. Also named as a deputy prime minister in the new cabinet is Uhuru Kenyatta, a Kibaki ally who is a son of Kenyan independence hero and its first president, Jomo Kenyatta.

The public had grown increasingly impatient with Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga. For three days earlier in the week, scuffles broke out in Kenya's largest slum, Kibera, between police and residents protesting the delay.

Kibera was the scene of some of the worst post-election violence in January and February.

So 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.

Mr Kibaki said: "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."

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