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Kenya President Kibaki Swears In Cabinet Amid Revolt


Members of Kenya's newly-named cabinet took their oath of office Friday. But, some seats remain vacant after several members of parliament turned down offers to serve in cabinet and subcabinet posts.

Members of the new cabinet took their oath of office, in a ceremony led by President Mwai Kibaki at Nairobi's State house Friday.

A total of 26 ministers were sworn in, leaving three cabinet slots vacant. Instead of a total of 44 deputy ministers only 28 took positions after 16 deputy ministers refused to accept seats in Mr. Kibaki's new-look cabinet.

In a short address after the ceremony, Mr. Kibaki told the cabinet to work hard to deliver services to Kenyans. "Kenyans were eagerly waiting for the announcement of the new cabinet because they wanted a team that would ensure them of development," he said. "Our role, therefore, is not to play politics but to deliver services and speedy implementation of projects for the benefit our people."

Mr. Kibaki has yet to name substitutes for those who turned down cabinet job offers. The problem is that the new cabinet does not command the confidence of the Kenyan people, going by the comments by the ordinary people, said Ludeki Chweya, a political analyst and lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

Mr. Chweya says the stability of Mr. Kibaki's government and its ability to achieve its goal of delivering services to Kenyans will depend on whether he reconciles with members of the coalition that helped him come to power, but who have now pulled out of his national rainbow coalition.

"The only way he can consolidate his power and gain the confidence of parliament when it convenes, is if he negotiates with groups that he has left out of that cabinet and bring them back in," he said. "Until he does that I don't think there is any other way in which one can consolidate power."

Mr. Kibaki fired his entire cabinet two weeks ago when his government was handed a humiliating defeat in a national referendum on a new constitution. Seven members of his former cabinet had teamed up with the opposition Kenya African National Union party (KANU) to successfully campaign against the adoption of the draft law.

All seven are excluded from the new cabinet and are calling on the president to call snap elections, saying Mr. Kibaki's government has lost credibility.