NAIROBI, April 13 – President Mwai Kibaki finally announced the 40-member Grand Coalition Cabinet on Sunday, ending a protracted stand-off over a power sharing deal following contentious December polls that sparked off nationwide bloodletting.
In the President’s new cabinet line-up, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Leader Raila Odinga ascended to the newly-created position of Prime Minister in line with the Peace Accord signed on February 28.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka was given the docket of Home Affairs as some of his ODM-Kenya colleagues landed Cabinet positions.
KANU’s chairman Uhuru Kenyatta was appointed deputy Prime Minister to represent the PNU side, and some of his party members were also given Cabinet positions.
On the other side ODM’s Musalia Mudavadi was appointed deputy Prime Minister with Local Government docket under his wing, replacing Kenyatta who was given the Trade Ministry.
Under the Accord, the leaders agreed on a real power-sharing structure where they would equally divide the Cabinet and other key positions.
“The enactment of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, 2008 and the agreement on the Cabinet underscores the commitment of our nation’s leadership to put the collective interest of the country and our people above everything else,” he said in a televised speech from State House, Nairobi.
He added: “I want to take this opportunity to thank Hon Odinga, and all the political leaders throughout the country for upholding the spirit of dialogue, which enabled us to unlock the political deadlock.”
The much-delayed agreement that paved way for the unveiling of the Grand Coalition Cabinet was reached during talks between the two Principals on Saturday at the secluded Sagana State Lodge.
And on Sunday, President Kibaki and Odinga announced separately that they had agreed on the Cabinet positions.
“The expanded Cabinet also introduces new Ministries to give priority attention to areas that are critical to the transformation of our country into a newly industrialised nation status. These include the Ministries of Industrialisation, Planning and Vision 2030, and Nairobi Metropolitan Development,” the President said.
The new Cabinet has 51 Assistant Ministers, with 10 ministries getting two assistants each.
In line with the President’s pledge to promote affirmative action, he named 13 women to serve both as Ministers and Assistants.
Another key feature is that each Minister belongs to a party different from their assistants in line with the power-sharing agreement for the Cabinet, whose members are drawn from President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU), Odinga’s ODM, Musyoka’s ODM-Kenya and Uhuru’s KANU.
It is the two major parties in the coalition (PNU and ODM) that bagged the majority of Cabinet positions.
In the new line-up, Professor George Saitoti maintained his Provincial Administration and Internal Security docket, and will be assisted by Simon Lesirma (PNU) and Joshua Orwa Ojode (ODM).
PNU’s Yusuf Haji also retained the Defense Ministry that was the subject of disagreement between President Kibaki and Odinga. Haji’s two Assistants are David Musila (ODM-K) and ODM’s Gen (Rtd) Joseph Nkaisserry.
Lorna Laboso of ODM was named assistant Minister for Home Affairs, under Musyoka.
Other key Ministerial positions that were untouched include Foreign Affairs, held by Moses Wetangula, Amos Kimunya (Finance), and Martha Karua’s Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs.
President Kibaki demoted Wilfred Machage of the East Africa Community ministry together with his Public Service colleague Asman Kamama.
Machage and Kamama were named Roads and Higher Education assistant ministers respectively.
Four new ministries of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands, Industrialisation, Planning and Vision 2030, and Nairobi Metropolitan Development were created.
The President said he had formed the new Ministry of Northern Kenya to focus on and address the unique challenges facing Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL).
The Ministry of Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands was handed to Ibrahim Elmi Mohamed, who will be assisted by Hussein Tarry Sasura.
Rift Valley emerged with the highest number of ministries at 10, followed by Nyanza, Eastern and Central provinces which got six each, Western (five), Coast and Nairobi (three) and North Eastern Province (two).
The President challenged members of the new Cabinet and the entire national leadership to set aside politics and get down to work to build a new Kenya “where justice is our shield and defender and where peace, liberty and plenty will be found throughout”.
The Head of State said the attitude among some political leaders that communities be restricted to particular areas or some Kenyans be perceived to be foreigners in their own country was backward and unacceptable.
President Kibaki reiterated the need for all Kenyans to enjoy equal rights including working and reaping the benefits of their labour anywhere in the country without hindrance, under the law.
He said discrimination of whatever form would not be allowed in the coalition Government.