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Kenyan President Chooses Women for Key Posts

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects the honour guard before the opening of the 11th Parliament at the National Assembly Chamber in the capital Nairobi, Apr. 16, 2013.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has revealed more nominees for his cabinet, which includes several women in key offices such as defense and foreign affairs. The new nominees follow the president’s promise to include more women and youth in government.

Of the 16 Cabinet positions Kenyatta has announced so far, six of the nominees are women.

Speaking outside of State House Thursday as he introduced 12 of the nominees, Kenyatta said his proposed Cabinet demonstrates his administration’s commitment to diversity.

“As far as I am concerned, there is no ministry of youth, there is no ministry of women, but there will be youth and women involved in every level of decision making in every level of participation in the development of our nation,” he said.

Kenyatta, who took office two weeks ago, has been announcing his choices for Cabinet in batches, as the nation anxiously waits to see the faces of the new administration.

Among those introduced Thursday was Raychelle Omamo, for secretary of defense.
Omamo has broad diplomatic experience as a former ambassador to France, Portugal and the Holy See. She was also the first woman to chair the Kenya Law Society.

She said she was grateful for the nomination.

“This is an enormous privilege, it is a huge task, and I look forward to working with you and the rest of the Cabinet in defending Kenya and our borders,” she said.

If approved by the National Assembly, Omamo will oversee the Kenyan military, which has troops deployed in Somalia.

On Monday, Kenyatta announced Amina Mohamed as his choice for foreign affairs secretary. She would be the first woman to hold the post.

From a Somali background, Mohamed is an assistant secretary-general with the United Nations and has represented Kenya at the World Trade Organization.

Kenyatta’s nominees so far have been pulled from the public and private sectors and include experienced civil servants and executives from the business community. Most have been educated abroad.

Two more positions have yet to be announced: secretaries of interior and labor.