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Friday, November 25, 2005

Japan Today - News - Kenyan president dumps cabinet - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Kenyan president dumps cabinet - Japan's Leading International News NetworkKenyan president dumps cabinet

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Thursday, November 24, 2005 at 07:39 JST
NAIROBI — Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki fired his entire cabinet Wednesday after the embarrassing rejection this week by voters of a new constitution he backed in a referendum that had deeply split the government.

In a step aimed at cushioning the blow from Monday's landmark plebiscite to his political fortunes ahead of elections in 2007, Kibaki sacked all ministers and their deputies and said he would name a new government within two weeks.

"Following the results of the referendum, it has become necessary for me, as the president of the republic, to re-organize my government to make it more cohesive and better able to serve the people of Kenya," he said.

"In accordance with the powers conferred upon me under the constitution of Kenya, I have directed that the offices of all ministers and all assistant ministers become vacant," Kibaki said in a televised address to the nation.

The announcement of the move, which takes immediate effect, came just 24 hours after the president conceded his camp had lost its bid to have voters adopt the first major changes to Kenya's 42-year-old independence constitution.

Nearly 60% of voters rejected the new charter, which was vehemently opposed by Kibaki's political foes and some members of his cabinet as it retained near-absolute powers in the office of the president.

Critics, including several ministers in his ruling coalition, said the draft defied popular demands for significant power to be devolved to a prime minister that Kibaki promised when he was elected three years ago on a reform platform.

Analysts warned that the vote was a sign of growing disenchantment with the president, who has been accused of failing to follow through on campaign pledges to crack down on corruption and revamp Kenya's economy.

"It had become clear to the president that this was indeed a vote of 'no confidence' in his government," said Nairobi-based political analyst Opiyo Oketch. (Wire reports)

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