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Kenyan President Begins Naming Ministers


Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has gone ahead and appointed several Cabinet ministers in his new government even though the country is mired in a political crisis that has left nearly 500 people dead. Nick Wadhams has the story from Nairobi.

Kalonzo Musyoka, the presidential candidate who won the third largest number of votes, was appointed vice president. There had been speculation that Musyoka was staying in the race as a path to the vice presidency.

In an appointment that bodes ill for Mr. Kibaki's promise to end corruption, George Saitoti was named internal security minister. Saitoti has been dogged by corruption allegations for years and his election to parliament was surrounded by claims of fraud.

Amos Kimunya was reappointed finance minister.

Mr. Kibaki told a live television broadcast that he considered, in his appointments, "the importance of keeping the country united, peaceful and prosperous under a strong, broad-based leadership."

The announcement comes amid some of Kenya's worst violence since independence from Britain in 1963. International observers pronounced the presidential election seriously flawed, and the allegations of rigging have sparked violence across the country. Officials say at least 250,000 people have fled their homes. Many are from Mr. Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and have now become the target of ethnic attacks.

Soon after the cabinet announcements, reports emerged of new protests in Kenya's west and attacks on people from the Kamba ethnic group, of which Musyoka is a member.

None of the Cabinet appointees so far are from opposition leader Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which captured nearly 100 seats in the 210-seat parliament, more than any other party.

Mr. Kibaki's announcement came as a surprise, because he and Mr. Odinga are far from achieving a political solution. At a news conference earlier in the day, Mr. Odinga said he would not accept Mr. Kibaki's offer of face-to-face talks on Friday, but would work through Ghana's President Jonh Kufuor, who is hoping to get the two sides to work together.

"Mr. Kibaki's response to my appeal for peace was to produce a public relations gimmick by which he invited me and my colleagues to attend a reconciliation meeting with him and church leaders. His effort will not be tolerated either by Kenyans or by the international community," he said.

At the same news conference, Mr. Odinga's team unveiled evidence that Mr. Kibaki added at least 471,000 fake votes to the vote tally in 47 constituencies. Mr. Kibaki ended up winning the election by about 230,000 votes.

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