After months of unrest in which 1,200 people died and more than 300,000 were uprooted from their homes, the situation in Kenya, it seems, has come to an end. On Sunday, Kenya President Mwai Kibaki (Party of National Unity) announced a coalition government with opposition leader Raila Odinga (Orange Democratic Movement) the new Prime Minister. Kenya has not had a Prime Minister since Jomo Kenyatta served from 1963 to 1964.
“I want to thank you, my fellow Kenyans, for your tolerance and patience during this period,” Kibaki said alongside Odinga, who had accused him of rigging his December 27 re-election.
“I’ll do everything possible to ensure that our country Kenya is steered along the path of peace, unity and stability.”
Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, who kept his job, has said the crisis forced the government to trim its growth forecast to 4.5-6.0 percent from a previous estimate of 6.9 percent.
While the new coalition government is a step in the right direction, many Kenyans are not happy with the new arrangement. The new coalition faces two problems. One, of course, is that the coalition is made up of parties that have fundamental differences on certain issues. As Koigi Wamwere, Kenya’s former deputed information minister put it:
“Kenyans are extremely hopeful, but they are also extremely forgetful. The forces that have formed this grand coalition are the same forces that formed five years ago the NARC (National Rainbow) coalition that collapsed almost immediately after its formation. I know that both sides seem quite eager to do their best to bring the grand coalition together, and probably to make it work. But there are also serious ideological questions or issues that divide the two sides of the grand coalition. For instance there is a question of land, and how it would be settled. Some of the people on the ODM (Orange Democratic Movement) side and who are now in the government …are advocates of ethnic federalism. Are they going to continue pushing for this agenda? If they push for it will the grand coalition leave alone Kenyan survive? These are some of the issues that make me worry when I look at the list of those who are in the cabinet, knowing their ideological positions, I fear for the survival of this grand coalition. But I hope I would be proven wrong.”
Others, including Nobel laureate Wangari Maatha, argue that the new cabinet is much too large and not cost effective. “The international community has no business giving money, giving advances, to a government that uses that money not to develop but rather to sustain an extravagant lifestyle.” said Maatha in an interview with Al-Jazeera.
Only time will tell if the fragile coalition will hold.
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