Sat, Jul 03, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Kenyan Cabinet shake-up has chance to ease feuding

NEW FACES Mwai Kibaki attempted to smooth ruffled feathers by building a Cabinet with representation for every party, but some feel insufficiently represented

REUTERS , NAIROBI, KENYA

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki's attempt to bring opposition parties into government through a Cabinet reshuffle has angered some rivals but it could help ease feuding that has hurt the economy, analysts said on Thursday.

Kenya is experiencing its worst political crisis since Kibaki won elections in December 2002. Rows over power-sharing and a new constitution threaten to split the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (NARC).

As a result, attention has been deflected away from measures needed to repair the country's battered economy and Kibaki stands accused of not imposing his authority.

Some economists welcomed the reshuffle, which they said showed Kibaki's decisiveness in the face of a crisis.

"Kibaki's main intention was to stabilize the political situation, which is important for the economy," policy analyst Dennis Kabaara said.

To quell the wrangles, Kibaki on Wednesday brought in ministers from the opposition KANU and Ford People parties, but demoted four key members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a faction in NARC, who were seen as troublemakers.

"We want to build a government for all Kenyans, a government that will reflect the aspirations of the majority of the people," Kibaki said.

LDP criticized the president, saying he had opted to run the government unilaterally without consulting it as agreed under a coalition pact signed ahead of the last elections.

The opposition KANU said the new line-up was not all-inclusive.

"A government of national unity has to involve all political parties and we made it clear we will not move into government until all political parties are included," KANU vice-chairman Bonaya Godana told Reuters. KANU held power from independence until it was ousted in the 2002 elections.

He said some of the five new ministries created were meant to accommodate Kibaki's friends.

Political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi said Kibaki had broken the coalition government by bringing in the opposition to cabinet.

"What is at stake is unity within the coalition government, and not national unity," Ngunyi said.

The LDP ministers demoted in the reshuffle have accused Kibaki of blocking a new constitution.

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