Kenyans are anxiously awaiting the announcement, possibly Tuesday of members of the country’s new cabinet. Under the power-sharing agreement signed February 28 between President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) both sides are to have equal number of cabinet posts in the new government.
Egara Kabaji is senior lecturer at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology at Kakamega in Western Kenya. He told VOA intense negotiations have been going on behind closed doors.
“In Kenya, people and politicians mobilize along tribal lines, and yesterday there was a meeting I in the Rift Valley where the people were asking the leaders of the Rift Valley to actually go for some of the most important positions within the cabinet. They understand very well that there is that clause on sharing of portfolios, which basically means that even the half cabinet that was named will definitely have to be dismantled for a fresh one to be put in place,” he said.
Kabaji said both President Kibaki and opposition leader Odinga and their supporters are trying to make the power-sharing clause in the February 28 agreement work in their favor.
“When you look back at what was signed at the agreement, actually it states clearly that there must be portfolio sharing. In other words, all the powerful positions cannot go to ODM-Kenya and PNU. That is why the half cabinet that was announced will definitely have to be dismantled so that a new one is put in place, bearing in mind the portfolio sharing that the two leaders have agreed on,” Kabaji said.
He said most of the powerful cabinet positions had already been given out to President Kibaki’s PNU party, with a few others to the opposition ODM.
Kabaji also said much of what is happening with the cabinet selection has to do with each side trying to position itself for the 2012 presidential election.
“As I said initially, in Kenya, we mobilize along ethnic lines, and these positions, especially those of ODM, will definitely be shared along ethnic lines bearing in mind the fact that most of the Kenyan communities voted for ODM. So the ODM leader will definitely be going out to make sure that all those constituencies that voted for him, and when we are talk about constituencies, we are talking about tribes. It basically means that he is going to make sure that he distributes those positions to people from various communities in other to make sure that he retains their support because he will definitely need their support come 2012,” he said.
On the other hand, Kabaji said President Kibaki may not have the need to please a lot of tribal loyalists because he is not going to be on the ballot in 2012.