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Kenyan Government in Crisis as Coalition Partner Refuses Post


The National Rainbow coalition government of President Mwai Kibaki suffered another blow when a leading coalition partner refused to take up appointments in the cabinet named yesterday.

When President Mwai Kibaki named his cabinet Wednesday, he said he had done so after consultations with various groups. But now Ford Kenya Party Chairman Musikari Kombo said he and four of his colleagues are turning down cabinet positions, because Mr. Kibaki had not sought their views before making the appointments.

"We have been surprised and disappointed that the president decided to take such a momentous decision without any consultation or regard to the views and feelings of my party, its leadership and membership," he said.

Mr. Kombo said his party was also unhappy with Mr. Kibaki, because he had failed to give Ford Kenya Party members cabinet slots that had been promised in a pre-election memorandum of understanding before the coalition came to power three years ago.

Mr. Kombo is the third minister to turn down the offer to serve in the new-look cabinet.

The other cabinet minister to turn down the offer include a key Kibaki ally Charity Ngilu who had been re-named health Minister. Also turning down a post was LDP politician Orwa Ojode who was slated to take the environment docket.

The national rainbow coalition was formed when the Democratic Party chaired by President Kibaki entered into a coalition arrangement with the Ford Kenya Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, and the National Party of Kenya before the 2002 elections.

But cracks soon emerged in that coalition when the Liberal Democratic Party started complaining that President Kibaki had not distributed cabinet positions as agreed in the pre-election memorandum of understanding.

Orwa Ojode of the LDP told VOA he turned down the offer, because Mr. Kibaki had not consulted his party prior to the appointment and that the president had dished out most plum jobs to his cronies.

"It looks like the seats were not distributed equitably because as you can see the composition of the cabinet we are having ten ministries going to one region Mount Kenya region and very strategic ministries," he said. "That amounts to one-third of the entire ministries going to one particular place."

About 15 members of parliament from several political parties are believed to have turned down offers to serve in the cabinet while the number of partners left in the ruling National Rainbow Coalition is three.

A statement from State House Nairobi said Mr. Kibaki would fill the vacancies soon and that the new members of the cabinet are expected to take the oath of office Friday.

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