MINISTER QUITS JOB

NAIROBI - Kenya's Justice Minister Martha Karua resigned from the government, illustrating the strains at the heart of the coalition government.

NAIROBI - Kenya's Justice Minister Martha Karua resigned from the government, illustrating the strains at the heart of the coalition government.

Karua, the first minister to quit the government formed just over a year ago, yesterday said her position was being undermined after media reports that President Mwai Kibaki had appointed new judges last week without consulting her.

Karua, who has announced plans to run for the presidency, has been critical of the east African country's judiciary and chief justice Evans Gicheru. Kibaki has said he has full confidence in Gicheru.

"My position as a minister is untenable following recent events," she told reporters.

Karua has been a key Kibaki supporter and was part of the team that thrashed out a power-sharing deal between the president's Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement that ended weeks of bloodshed last year.

But analysts say her fierce criticism of the judiciary and frequent calls for government reforms have driven a wedge between her and other Kibaki supporters, who had also threatened to table a censure motion against her.

Karua said she would continue with her reform crusade and fight against graft that is widely viewed as a major obstacle to growth in the region's biggest economy.

"I will support what is positive and reform-oriented, but I'll now be able to totally disagree with anything that is anti-reform, anything that points towards opaqueness, corruption and lack of transparency," she said.

She still aimed to run for the presidency.

"My quest to be the chief executive of this country remains on course and I'm going to pursue it to the end," she said. - Reuters

X