NAIROBI, April 14 – Prime Minister (PM) Raila Odinga Monday said the Grand Coalition Cabinet unveiled by President Mwai Kibaki on Sunday was fairly shared out between the two principal parties.
Reacting to concerns by some Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) members that they were short-changed by their Party of National Unity (PNU) counterparts, Odinga said he was comfortable with the posts given to them.
He said: “Some people will be happy, others will be disappointed, but we cannot all be in the Cabinet.”
The PM said despite intense pressure he and the President had come up with the best possible Cabinet.
The portfolio balance was finalised when the two leaders met at the Sagana State Lodge after a month of failed negotiations on how to implement the 50-50 power sharing deal signed by the two principals on February 28.
Right before the weekend meeting the two parties were haggling over five key ministries, namely Local Government, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Energy and Transport.
Out of these ODM only managed to secure the Local Government portfolio, leaving those who had been following the intrigues of the negotiations puzzled as to what transpired at Sagana.
Speaking after viewing his office, which will be at the Treasury Building and previously occupied by Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, Odinga said now that the Grand Coalition was in place, he would ensure all Cabinet members worked in harmony.
He said the Cabinet must work as a team and not as two teams in one.
“The process of reconciliation has begun and the Cabinet must speak in one voice,” Odinga said.
The PM spoke as appointed ministers took up their offices and outlined the way forward.
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula appealed to his colleagues to put aside political differences and get down working.
Wetangula who retained his ministry, which was one of those being fought over during negotiations, said the new government’s top priority should be to serve Kenyans.
“We have worked together before and if everybody is committed to working as a team we will deliver,” said the Foreign Affairs Minister.
After meeting envoys from Latin America at his office Wetangula defended the 40-member Cabinet, saying it had to satisfy the needs of PNU, ODM and ODM Kenya.
“You cannot talk of a grand coalition without a grand Cabinet, the two go together.”
Meanwhile, newly appointed Tourism Minister Najib Balala also said the bloated Cabinet was necessitated by circumstances.
Speaking while taking over office at Utalii House, Balala said that despite ODM not having all its demands met, it was time for Kenya to move on.
“This country is tired and the people need to look ahead so we want to come on board because we believe it’s not about us it’s about serving the people,” he said.