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Page last updated at 18:21 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 19:21 UK

Nobel winner tear-gassed in Kenya

Wangari Maathai on 20 February 2008
Nobel winner Wangari Maathai accused ministers of wanting to get rich

Kenyan police have fired tear gas at dozens of protesters, including Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, during a demonstration in the capital Nairobi.

The rally was held against plans by President Mwai Kibaki to boost the number of ministers in the new cabinet.

President Kibaki wants to increase the cabinet positions to 44, but opposition leader Raila Odinga insists the number should remain at 34 or less.

The rivals agreed to share power in February after the disputed elections.

The protesters - many of whom dressed in black - carried placards opposing Mr Kibaki's plan to expand the cabinet.

"Considering that we are a poor country, even 15 ministers are enough but they want to increase the number since they do not intend to serve but acquire wealth," Ms Maathai told reporters during the protest.

'Country bleeding'

She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for campaigns to promote conservation, women's rights and transparent government.

Kamanda Mucheke, a human rights activist, said: "The country is bleeding and we need more money for reconstruction of the country, not to pay ministers."

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga had been expected to hold talks on Tuesday afternoon but the meeting was cancelled.

They agreed in February to form a coalition amid international mediation after some 1,500 people were killed and 600,000 displaced in the unrest that followed December's presidential poll.

According to the deal, both leaders are supposed to share cabinet posts on a 50-50 basis.

But they have also failed to reach an agreement on that issue, despite repeated meetings.

Kenya does not have a law that directs the president on the number of ministers to be appointed. Previous cabinets have had over 30 ministers.


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