Kenya’s new president picks key ministers

Kenya's new leader Uhuru Kenyatta shows his IEBC certificate on March 9, 2013, in Nairobi, following his victory. By Hoss Njuguna (AFP/File)

Kenya’s new leader Uhuru Kenyatta shows his IEBC certificate on March 9, 2013, in Nairobi, following his victory. By Hoss Njuguna (AFP/File)

NAIROBI (AFP) – Kenya’s new president Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday named defence, tourism and other key ministers to a slimmed down cabinet, brushing off concerns that most appointees hail from the same tribe as him and his deputy.

Kenyatta, one of Africa’s richest men, won March 4 polls which while marred by problems, were largely peaceful as the east African nation moved on from the ethnic killings and widespread violence that followed the 2007 election.

In a press conference he announced the appointment of another 12 members to his cabinet which will number 18, less than half the number of ministers in the 44-strong former cabinet.

As defence minister he picked lawyer and diplomat Raychelle Omamo, a former ambassador to France, Portugal and Serbia.

Charity Ngilu and Najib Balala, both career politicians and allies of Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, were named to the lands and mining ministries respectively.

Also named were engineer Michael Kamau for transport, economist Phyllis Chepkoskey Kandie for tourism and Davis Chirchir for energy and petroleum.

Answering questions of regional balance in government since a majority of those appointed come from Kenyatta’s Kikuyu and Ruto’s Kalenjin tribes, Kenyatta said: “We have taken great care of reaching all corners of the country but we do not have the luxury of a cabinet as large as the previous one.”

On Tuesday he appointed ministers in charge of finance, foreign affairs, information and health.

The nominees will be vetted by a committee comprised of the speaker and members of parliament from both the majority and minority parties. However, Kenyatta’s coalition holds a majority in the vetting committee.

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