NAIROBI - Hundreds of protesters marched in Kenya's capital Thursday to demand greater diversity in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cabinet picks. Activists are calling on parliament to reject the existing list of nominees, urging Kenyatta to nominate more women, youth and members of marginalized groups.
The protesters carried signs that read “Recall the List” as they marched to the parliament building in Nairobi.
They are demanding that recently re-elected President Uhuru Kenyatta revise his list of cabinet nominees to make it more inclusive.
Only six of the 21 nominees on the current list are women. No youth representatives, defined as people between ages 18 and 35, are among the candidates. Activists say only one person with a disability has been nominated.
Sabeti Mboga, a disabled mother of three, joined the march.
“I am here to protest because the government does not recognize us. We also want to be involved in the processes of governance like anybody else,” Mboga said.
The protesters say Kenyatta is seeking to reward ruling party loyalists.
Mercy Jelimo, the leadership and governance officer at the Center for Rights Education and Awareness, laid out the protesters’ demands.
“Today we are going to parliament. This is our form of presentation of our memorandum to the committee on appointments, as they vet the cabinet nominees. We are there to express our dissatisfaction with the list,” Jelimo said.
Political climate remains tense
In early January, Kenyatta came under fire from gender activists for announcing a partial list of nominees that included no women. He released the full list on January 26. The president has not responded to criticism of his cabinet picks.
The issue is re-emerging amid a tense political climate.
Kenyatta's government is drawing criticism for its arrest of three people who took part in the mock presidential inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga on January 30, and for its temporary shutdown of three TV stations that tried to cover the event.
The interior minister said the government acted to prevent violence. Rights groups say authorities are trampling the constitution and defying court orders.
Jimmy Eddy, a member of Team Courage, a local activist group, marched Thursday with other demonstrators.
“We have seen the media being under siege of late. We have seen arrests of various people, including deportation. How do you deport your child from your house?” asked Eddy.
Odinga rejects the results of the October presidential run-off election, which he boycotted, and has called for a fresh vote in August.
One of three opposition figures arrested over the swearing-in ceremony arrived in Canada Thursday after being deported, according to local media. Miguna Miguna is a leader of Odinga’s National Resistance Movement. In a statement, the Interior Ministry said Miguna's Kenyan citizenship has been revoked.