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Kenya’s Opposition ODM Dismisses Kibaki’s Cabinet Appointment

Kenya’s main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has described as unfortunate and illegal President Mwai Kibaki’s announcement of members of his cabinet. Kibaki’s announcement comes as Ghana’s President and African Union chairman John Kufuor is expected today (Wednesday) to chair talks between the opposition and the government. The talks are aimed at resolving the ongoing political impasse and also to address the escalating violence, which is threatening Kenya’s young democracy.

Political observers say Kibaki’s announcement would not only embarrass President Kufuor, but could potentially undermine the chance to resolve the country’s political crisis. William Ruto is a leading member of the opposition ODM. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the Kenyan capital, that Kibaki’s announcement is disappointing.

“Mr. Kibaki is behaving true to his colors. We had agreed with him that he was not going to make any move, and that is the reason why we postponed our rallies, which were meant to happen today to give negotiations a chance. Our position is that Mwai Kibaki is not the president of Kenya because he lost the election and any purported announcement of anybody into something called a cabinet is a farce,” Ruto noted.

He said President Kibaki’s cabinet appointment is a calculated attempt to refuse to address the problems that followed the controversial December 27th election.

“Mwai Kibaki is trying to divert attention from the crisis our country faces. We are due for negotiations under the mediation of the president of Ghana John Kufuor, and he is trying to run away from the discussion because he is ashamed and because he stole from the people of Kenya and he does not want that subject discussed. He believes that he can run this country the way Mugabe (Zimbabwe’s President) is running Zimbabwe. We want to tell him this is Kenya, this is not Zimbabwe, he is not going to get away with it,” he said.

Ruto described as unfortunate reports that leading members of President Kibaki’s new team are downplaying the role of Ghana’s president who is expected to jumpstart today’s talks between Kenya’s government and the opposition.

“It is the understanding of ODM, it is the understanding of many leaders in Africa, and it is the understanding of many leaders across the world that President Kufuor is coming here to mediate so that we can end the crisis in our country. Gordon Brown (British Prime minister) had made a statement on this, George Bush of the U. S. made a statement today on this, and he was very categorical that John Kufuor was coming here to mediate on the situation we have here in this country,” Ruto pointed out.

He denied the situation on the ground may not favor the opposition ODM party.

“I think things are going the way we wanted. We had proposed right from the beginning that we need negotiations under international mediation. The international community has pressed and in our country yesterday evening President Kufuor arrived and we have prepared ourselves for discussions this morning. Anything about appointing a cabinet is a diversionary tactic and we are not going to buy into that. We are walking straight into the talks, and we want to resolve the issues on the table so that we can move this country forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, partisans of the opposition ODM reportedly rioted in the western city of Kisumu upon hearing that embattled President Mwai Kibaki had named several members of a new cabinet.