Moi strives for ethnic balance in new cabinet

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The Independent Online
TWO MINISTERS badly defeated in the recent multi-party elections in Kenya have been given parliamentary seats and kept on in President Daniel arap Moi's new cabinet, announced yesterday. The appointments indicate an attempt to maintain ethnic balance but not reward groups which voted against Mr Moi in the recent, widely criticised, elections.

The ruling party won 100 out of 188 elective seats but 15 cabinet ministers lost their seats. The poll divided Kenya on clear ethnic lines and the Kikuyu and Luo peoples voted solidly against President Moi and his Kenyan African National Union (Kanu) party. No one from either of those groups standing for Kanu was returned as an MP and Joseph Kamotho and Dalmas Otieno, Kikuyu and Luo respectively, were heavily rejected in their home areas. Their reappointment suggests Mr Moi wants to include members from all Kenya but has chosen rejected MPs loyal to him.

Other appointments to the cabinet confirm that. He has rewarded those who delivered swing areas to the ruling party, giving more seats to Luyha and Kamba representatives from areas which might have been expected to vote for the opposition. The cabinet has been reduced from 32 to 23 members - in preparation for cuts demanded by the International Monetary Fund and Western governments as part of an efficiency drive and economic reform.

He has also brought in young and inexperienced MPs to top jobs such as Musalia Mudavadi as Minister of Finance to replace George Saitoti, who remains Vice- President.

Mr Mudavadi, 32, and formerly minister for marketing and supplies, has one of the most difficult jobs in Africa. Starved of aid since November 1991 as Western countries stopped assistance to force Kenya into multi-party elections, the Kenyan economy is in a downward spiral. The election worsened matters - costing pounds 100m, according to a senior government source. To secure an agreement with the IMF, a prerequisite for resuming aid, Mr Mudavadi will have to make deep cuts and allow prices to rise. These will hit the urban poor - a group which voted almost unanimously against President Moi.