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Obama’s ‘Cousin’ Odinga New Kenyan PM

From a relieved New York Times:


President Mwai Kibaki, right, and the top opposition leader, Raila Odinga, left, at the announcement of the new cabinet on Sunday in Nairobi.

Unity Cabinet Formed in Kenya, Ending Deadlock

April 14, 2008
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

NAIROBI, Kenya — President Mwai Kibaki announced a new — and enormous — national unity cabinet here on Sunday, ending weeks of anxious deadlock that had threatened to plunge Kenya back into violence.

Mr. Kibaki’s political party, which some Western election observers have accused of stealing a presidential election in December, retained the most powerful ministries, like finance and foreign affairs, but the leading opposition party managed to get some key posts, including local government and agriculture. And the top opposition leader, Raila Odinga, who claims to have won the presidential vote, was appointed prime minister

In late February, the government and the opposition agreed to share power but they had been haggling since then on who got which post.

On Sunday, it took Mr. Kibaki more than 10 minutes to read aloud the list of ministers and assistant ministers, totaling 94 people, nearly half of the Parliament. It is the biggest cabinet Kenya has ever had.

Because of all the politicking and need to placate various interest groups, Mr. Kibaki created several new, highly paid positions, like the minister of Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands. Trade organizations and human rights groups have roundly criticized this as inefficient and wasteful, especially when thousands of displaced Kenyans are still living in tents.

Mr. Kibaki defended the enlarged cabinet as crucial for Kenya’s development.

“Let us put politics aside and get to work,” he said on Sunday in a televised address. “Let us build a new Kenya where justice is our shield and defender, and where peace, liberty and plenty will be found throughout our country.”

The opposition party said it was disappointed that it did not get as many powerful positions as it would have liked…

That restlessness exploded last week when opposition supporters rioted in several towns across Kenya. They said they were angry about the delay in forming the cabinet, and Mr. Lone credits that outburst for speeding the process along.

“The international pressure had been there for some time and the riots really focused our minds on how fragile things were,” he said…

[T]he election stirred up long-simmering grievances over political and ethnic issues, which violently split many parts of the country down ethnic lines. And then there is the direct economic damage from all the fighting, with countless homes, businesses, factories and schools burned to the ground, investor confidence low and Kenya’s fabled safari business on it knees.

So it is no surprise that many Kenyans doubt that the cabinet deal will be a cure-all. While there was jubilation that greeted the power-sharing deal in February, with crowds cheering in the streets, this time the mood was more muted and even skeptical.

I don’t see this lasting long,” said Wambua Kilonzo, a lawyer in Nairobi. “There’s been too much bad blood already. Everything that has been done so far has only been done by the force of the arm.”

What seemed to irk people most was the size of the cabinet.

“We have been duped,” said Simoni Birundu, national chairman for the Name and Shame anti-corruption network. “We needed a lean cabinet so that it does not consume all our national resources.”

Maina Kiai, chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, called the bloated cabinet “an insult.”

“The politicians are not interested in us,” he said. “They’re interested in themselves. We go begging for money from other countries to feed our children. And then we use our tax payers’ money to buy big houses and limousines. Here we are talking about a new Kenya. But instead of going forward, we’re going backwards.”


Odinga claims to be a cousin of American Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama through the latter’s father, Barack Obama Sr., who Odinga claims was his maternal uncle. This claim has not been corroborated, but Obama Sr. did come from the same Luo tribe as Odinga.

Gee, after only a thousand or so dead and millions lost in looting. (If only the Democrats could run their nomination process as smoothly.)

Of course it was all well worth it. For now they will surely have peace. (“No Raila, No Peace!” having been the battle cry of the citizenry.)

Never mind the sore-headed pickers of nits, like Mr. Kiai:

“The politicians are not interested in us,” he said. “They’re interested in themselves. We go begging for money from other countries to feed our children. And then we use our tax payers’ money to buy big houses and limousines. Here we are talking about a new Kenya. But instead of going forward, we’re going backwards.”

Heck, with any luck, Mr. Obama will provide us with the very same kind of governmental munificence that Kenya enjoys.

After all, that was the dream of his father.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, April 13th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “Obama’s ‘Cousin’ Odinga New Kenyan PM”

  1. Keeping an eye on leftists says:

    While I doubt anyone will actually read this. Will the media types ever investigate the connection between Odinga AND Obama? Even when evidence has surfaced showing Obama giving nearly a $1M to Odinga’s campaign and giving him points to try to win. Then giving pointers on how to get power in the current administration by having his Muslim and tribual cohorts go out rape, burn and murder and Obama wants to be POTUS. We are SCREWED!!!!

  2. Consilience says:

    We are screwed if we don’t hold our elected representatives ACCOUNTABLE! If we believe the BS being dished out by the liberal media and stay home or vote for some third party nitwit, then the right-most-high-Chicago-thug-anointed messiah will be POTUS—-don’t fall for the BS—-Kerry was similarly “positioned” by the leftists in 04 and Bush won a landslide in popular vote. VOTE and hold the entire Washington political class ACCOUNTABLE.


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