Kenya Closes Peace Deal With New Cabinet

Months of political turmoil effectively ended today when Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki named a new cabinet, completing the grand coalition government agreed to in last month's peace accord.

In a ceremony of pomp and circumstance, Kibaki referenced newly appointed Prime Minister Raila Odinga and thanked Kenyans for their "tolerance and patience during this period."

The announcement came after weeks of gridlock. Last week, the peace deal negotiated by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which ended months of violence following Kenya's disputed election in December, seemed in jeopardy as both parties reached a stalemate over appointments to the most powerful ministries.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a statement urging both sides to quickly reach an agreement. Like the peace agreement, which was ultimately negotiated by principal players Kibaki, and Odinga, the finalization of the cabinet occurred only after the two met, without the presence of their political allies, to hammer out the details.

In his speech today, Kibaki said the new cabinet required "statesmanship and sacrifice." He also said it "underscores our nation's leadership to put the collective needs of the country above everything else."

The major issue in forming a new cabinet was that many of the most powerful posts were already occupied. Immediately following the election results, Kibaki announced appointments for the country's most coveted ministries, such as finance, defense, internal security and justice.

The political stakes were high for the new coalition with the president's PNU party not wanting to give up any important posts, and Odinga's ODM party crying foul. "We will not be junior partners," Odinga said last week.

The cabinet announced today, however, has PNU retaining most of the powerful positions, while Odinga remains prime minister-designate in charge of government affairs. The new cabinet also names an ODM member as the minister in charge of local governance — one of the most powerful ministries.

Hardliners on both sides were denied historically powerful posts. Three new ministries were also created, many analysts say, for political balance.

The new cabinet now has a total of 40 ministers, a number that makes some Kenyans unhappy. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai led a protest against the new cabinet. "We do not need a cabinet that has more than 24 ministries," she said "This will translate into Kenyans having to dig more into their pockets in the form of taxes."

John Wanu, a Nairobi businessman, told ABC News he agrees. "Just look at how the food prices have risen in the last three months, and instead of them looking at this major crisis, they are just creating more and more ministries," he says.

But while Kenyans may be unhappy with the additional bureaucracy, most say it's a small sacrifice for restoring peace and stability.

During the post-election violence, Kenya's economy plunged, more than 1,500 people were killed and nearly half a million were displaced. "We must look into the issue of economic reconstruction and taking Kenya back to where it was," said Catherine Muthoni, a university student. "Now that we have a new cabinet, we must re-boost tourism as well as look into the issue of the internally displaced persons."

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