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Kenyan Government Under Fire Over Envoy Appointments


Kenyan Government Under Fire Over Envoy Appointments

Kenyan Government Under Fire Over Envoy Appointments

Kenya's coalition government is coming under intense criticism after naming siblings of cabinet ministers as diplomats.

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Kenyans overwhelmingly rejected the appointments, describing them as nepotism and tribalism.

They said the appointments sharply contradicted Prime Minister Raila Odinga's promise of stern action against people who practice nepotism and tribalism in the public service.

But the government argued the appointment of ambassadors is the prerogative of the president.

Gitobu Imanyara, a Kenyan lawmaker said that the appointments are demoralizing to career diplomats.

"I have no problem at all about the president's daughter or the prime minister's sister or whoever (is) being appointed to a place on merit… but where appointments are done simply because of blood relationship…then I share the position shared by many very many Kenyans that it is wrong," Imanyara said.

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He said Kenyans are upset about the government's claim that the appointment of ambassadors is the prerogative of the president.

"If they were appointed on merit nobody will complain. But you tell me when were the positions advertized, when were the applications closing, who was shortlisted, when did they go for interviews and how many applied in order for one person to be appointed? That is what Kenyans are complaining about (and) that is what I am complaining about," he said.

Imanyara said the government seems insensitive to the concerns of Kenyans.

"It appears as if by electing people to the position of leadership, we are giving them the go ahead to exercise complete impunity in terms of public appointments. That is unacceptable (and) it's against the law of Kenya," Imanyara said.

He dismissed the government's claim that the appointments were not unsettling.

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"Of course I reject the government's position and if you ask the ordinary Kenyan they will share my own view that it is very demoralizing to advertise a position for a career…then you get people who have served the public service for a very long time…and are being picked from retirement to be in charge of position of leadership," he said.

Imanyara said the government was economical with the truth after it cited former U.S. President John Kennedy who appointed his brother as attorney general.

"J.F. Kennedy appointed his own brother Robert Kennedy to the attorney general, but although he was the president's brother he had to go through confirmation hearing before the senate committees. So, there was absolutely no question of nepotism because the government of Kenya is claiming that even… the president of America appointed his own brother to be attorney general," Imanyara said.

So far, four of the newly named envoys have siblings in the Kenyan coalition government.

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