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Kenyan Justice Minister Resigns


Kenya's justice minister has resigned, in the latest indication of the discord within the country's coalition government. One of Kenya's most prominent politicians, Martha Karua complained the government was not allowing her to pursue reform efforts.

Until recently, Martha Karua was one of President Mwai Kibaki's key allies. After disputed elections in December 2007, she headed the negotiating team for the president's Party of National Unity.

But in recent months, Karua has become an outspoken critic of the government's failure to undertake reforms. She led a failed effort to oust the country's agriculture minister over allegations of corruption, and has criticized the judicial system and attorney general for failing to tackle graft within the government.

Last week, President Kibaki bypassed Karua in appointing several judges, a move that appears to be the direct motivation for Karua's departure.

"We are playing a game on the citizens of this country," said Karua. "Time is not on our side, we need to move. I will be playing my part, but standing on a different position."

Announcing her resignation, Karua criticized the role of ethnicity in politics.

"It is time also we demystify ethnicity. Nothing wrong with coming from different ethnic groups," she said. "But something wrong with us politicians hijacking ethnicity by using it to propel ourselves. Any corruption by a member of your ethnic group, or any denial of your human rights is going to affect you just the same way it would affect you if another person did it."

Karua is also positioning herself for a presidential run in the 2012 elections.

Karua's departure is only the latest sign of the troubles within the coalition government. Tensions between the Party of National Unity and Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement have swelled in recent days, with the latter complaining that it has not been granted the weight it is due under last year's power-sharing accord.

A committee designed to work through the parties' disputes met over the weekend, but disbanded before any substantive discussions even began. Following the meeting, Prime Minister Raila Odinga made his most direct criticism of the president to date, threatening to pull his party out of the coalition.


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