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Kenyans Demand Cabinet Now


Kenyans are reportedly demanding an end to the political impasse that is preventing both President Mwai Kibaki’s government and the main opposition from naming a working cabinet. This comes after opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) accused the Kibaki government over what it described as its lackadaisical attitude towards implementing the recently signed power-sharing deal, which ended post-election violence threatening the stability of the country.

Kenyans say the lack of a functioning cabinet is detrimental to setting the country back on track after post-election violence led to a loss of lives and property.

From the capital, Nairobi, the chairman of Kenya’s Human Rights Commission Maina Kiai tells reporter Peter Clottey both the government and the opposition need to get their acts together.

“The opposition ODM is in itself less honest on this. They have been asking for 34 ministers. Now, we are saying, as Kenyans we want a lean, clean and efficient government. Now that means we are saying therefore that a maximum of 24, but we also understand that in a coalition government, when you talk about 24 you are saying 12 each. So that seems to be a reasonable number. But in addition to being lean, we also want it to be clean, which means people who have been mentioned in corruption, people who have been hard liners within the process of trying to move the country forward, people who have been involved in perhaps the post-election violence. All those (and they are on both sides by the way) should be excluded,” Kiai noted.

He said Kenyans want both parties to pay heed to their demands.

“We are seeing this process and we are saying that both these leaders, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga should be honest and listen to us, the Kenyan people,” he said.

Kiai said both parties seem not to see eye to eye on how to implement the power-sharing deal, which effectively ended the post-election violence.

“From what I understand there are two things; one is that the Orange Democratic Movement is saying 34. The Party of National Unity (PNU) is talking about 44. So trying to bridge that gap seems problematic. Then, secondly, we are hearing that even in terms of the numbers, the PNU is suggesting that they have 23 and ODM has 21. Of course that goes like a slap in the face of the power-sharing agreement of 50-50. Thirdly, we understand that the PNU is re-fencing some ministries and saying these ones cannot be taken. We must carry them -- which of course doesn’t comply with the provisions of the agreement that talks about portfolio balance, which means it’s not rocket science,” Kiai pointed out.

He said Kenyans would continue to put pressure on both political parties until they resolve the political impasse.

“We are very clear that a compromise must not mean selling off of Kenyan people. So a compromise is useful, and of course they need to reach that, but it cannot be at the expense of Kenyans. For us it is a question of accountability, and a question of what they said. Each side said very clearly, that they would have a lean cabinet if they were elected. So we are basically saying, well, you are both sharing power, so now both of you exercise, fulfill and implement those promises you made to us. You have to stop using us Kenyan people as fodder for votes and then once you get there, you ignore us. So we are basically saying we will not relent. We will continue,” he said.

Meanwhile, the former United Nations secretary general, who brokered Kenya’s power-sharing deal has reportedly said President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga have no alternative but to share power equally and must follow the spirit and letter of the agreement.

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