NAIROBI, April 17 – Newly appointed members to Kenya’s first Grand Coalition Cabinet were sworn into office at State House Nairobi on Thursday, completing the set up of the new government structure and setting the wheels in motion for tackling massive challenges ahead.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga was the first to be sworn-in, followed by his two deputies Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi.
In a ceremony devoid of the acrimony that tainted the swearing in of Members of Parliament (MPs) earlier this year, the Prime Minister, 25 Ministers and 51 Assistant Ministers pledged their allegiance to the President and the Republic of Kenya.
15 Ministers, including the Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka were not sworn-in, as their ceremony was conducted on January 10, when the split Cabinet was announced by President Mwai Kibaki.
The ceremony was graced by several dignitaries including former President Daniel arap Moi, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, foreign envoys and Chief Mediator Kofi Annan, who brokered the deal that ended a bloody crisis over the disputed December poll.
The unity government that was created to stem the crisis that saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives, has been described by some analysts as a hybrid between a parliamentary and presidential system.
After all the members were sworn-in, the President urged the coalition Cabinet to be result oriented and excel in their portfolios.
“I encourage you to closely monitor and oversee the activities of your ministries in order to ensure that wananchi receive the benefits they expect and in particular, that they are not frustrated by corrupt and inefficient officials,” the Head of State said.
Stressing that Kenyans want and deserve a new constitutional dispensation, President Kibaki said the government had committed itself to deliver on the promise within a year.
“The coalition is better placed to galvanize public consensus on the few contentious issues that have been outstanding,” said the President, noting that the process had dragged on for more than 15 years.
The President said the formation of the Grand Coalition was a recognition that neither individual interests should be allowed to override the greater good of the nation, nor personal interests be allowed to undermine the aspirations of the people.
On his part, the Prime Minister committed to provide decisive leadership and wisdom to all Kenyans.
“We have been to hell and back. We must preserve the sanctity of our nation and remain united, but our unity cannot be based on words and goodwill alone, but actions,” Odinga said.
"Kenya will have no longer a ruling class. The rulers are the people. Power will forever be with the people of Kenya. Fellow Kenyans, I give you myself in your service," he added.
Odinga, who was President Kibaki’s main challenger in last year’s polls also committed to lead major reforms in the governance of the country.
The 63-year-old becomes the second Prime Minister in the country’s history after founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, and will be in charge of coordinating and supervising government operations.
Ahead of the ceremony, clerics prayed that the Cabinet would be the most effective team to serve the country, and for unity among Kenyans.
Annan on the other hand encouraged Kenyan citizens to support the government, saying the deeply divided country had a long way to go after the crisis that ruined its reputation as a beacon of stability in a region beset by conflict.
"We have an opportunity to put Kenya back on track and build a stronger Kenya," he said.
"It is essential that you all support the leaders and the government. You are on an important journey. Stay the course, work with them, support them and don’t believe that now you’ve got a government, all is resolved and we can relax."
"Peace is precious, let’s not lose it once again," he urged.
Annan brokered the 50-50 power sharing deal between Kibaki and Odinga on February 28, paving the way for the Grand Coalition Cabinet.
President Yoweri Museveni noted that the new Government’s formation showed that Africa’s political problems could be solved locally.
“The African countries must transform into an industrial country, agriculture alone cannot provide enough jobs for an expanding population,” he observed.
Museveni also urged Kenyan leaders to avoid domestic squabbles but work for the unity of the East Africa Community.