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Kenyan President Names Close Allies for New Government

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, who dismissed his Cabinet last month following a humiliating defeat in a national referendum on a new constitution, has named his new Cabinet. The president re-appointed only those ministers who supported the draft constitution.

The much-awaited Cabinet was unveiled by President Mwai Kibaki in a televised address from Nairobi. The president said his new Cabinet appointments were the result of wide consultations aimed at constituting a cohesive, balanced, and efficient body. "As I stated earlier, the priority of my government is to achieve higher levels of economic growth and broad-based development for this country. This objective calls for a concerted action by a government, which is focused and committed to the common agenda. It is therefore imperative that the Cabinet works as a team and pulls together in the same direction," he said.

President Kibaki retained key Cabinet members who had campaigned for the draft constitution in last month's referendum. These include Vice President Moody Awori, Internal Security Minister John Michuki, Finance Minister David Mwiraria, Health Minister Charity Ngilu, Local Government Minister Musikari Kombo, Livestock Minister Joseph Munyao, Minister for the East African Community, John Koech and Cooperatives Minister Peter Ndwiga. /// END OPT ///

The only leading proponent of the draft constitution to be left out of the Cabinet is Christopher Murungaru. He has been accused of corruption by some Western nations and anti-graft campaigners. The United States and Britain have withdrawn his visas to visit those countries.

Mr. Kibaki also dropped all the seven former Cabinet ministers who had teamed up with the opposition Kenya African National Union Party (KANU) to campaign against the new constitution, under the banner of the Orange Democratic Movement.

They include former Roads Minister Raila Odinga, former Environment Minister Kalonzo Musyoka, former Minister of State in the Office of the President William Ole Ntimama, former Heritage Minister Najib Balala, former Sports Minister Ochillo Ayako, former Planning Minster Anyang Nyongo and former Immigration Minister Linah Chelimo.

Some western diplomats had urged the president to appoint a lean Cabinet composed of people of integrity and professional qualifications.

Some of those dropped from the Cabinet enjoy popularity at the grass roots, as was seen during the referendum debate. Political observers have commented that by failing to re-appoint them, President Kibaki has reduced his chances of wining re-election should he decide to run in 2007.