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Kibaki Names Cabinet Members - 2003-01-03

After days of speculation, Kenya's new president, Mwai Kibaki, announced his cabinet Friday. He also pledged to make the war on corruption a priority when parliament opens next Thursday.

In a televised address to the nation, from the steps of his official residence in Nairobi, President Kibaki read the names of the members of his first cabinet.

This marks a major change from the style of his predecessor President Daniel arap Moi, who used to make announcements of appointments or firings at roadsides or over the radio.

Although President Kibaki had promised a leaner, more efficient government, his first cabinet contains 20 ministries - four more than the outgoing government.

Several ministries were reorganized and two completely new ministries were created: one for justice and constitutional affairs and the other for cooperative development.

President Kibaki faces a difficult task. His National Rainbow Coalition party is made up of 14 opposition parties, all of which expected to be rewarded for their support in ousting the ruling KANU party in the December 27 elections.

As expected, the post of vice president went to Michael Wamalwa, as arranged in a pre-election pact of the coalition leaders.

Other key members of the coalition were also given senior posts, including Kalonzo Musyoka as minister of foreign affairs, George Saitoti as minister of education, Charity Ngilu as minister of health, Raila Odinga as minister of roads, public works and housing and Moody Awori as minister of home affairs.

Perhaps the most important appointment of all, that of minister of finance, went to David Mwiraria, a close ally of President Kibaki and former shadow finance minister.

Mr. Kibaki, following up on his campaign pledge to eradicate corruption, said his government will bring two anti-corruption bills to parliament when it opens Thursday.

The new president said he is hopeful that this will lead to the restoration of international donor lending, suspended in 2000 because of the failure of President Moi's government to tackle corruption.

"We have already started communication with those who have assisted Kenya in the past," he said. "I can assure you the bulk of them whom I have talked to have been very positive in their wish that our relationship be expanded and in their commitment to continue to assist this nation, particularly as we shall fulfill our promise to fight corruption."

President Kibaki said another important task in the first week of Parliament will be to amend the budget so as to provide free primary education. This promise is one that has won President Kibaki widespread support from millions of poor parents who cannot afford to send their children to school.