Kenyan leader calls for unity to lift economic growth

Kenya is expected to post faster than previously thought economic growth this year but the country must encourage political stability and take measures aimed at reducing interest rates, its president said on Tuesday.

Mwai Kibaki told parliament the region’s biggest economy could expand by 4.5 percent this year from 2.5 percent in 2009. The 2010 outlook is slightly higher than initial forecasts by government and the World Bank of 3-4 percent.

“To experience real growth and success in the war against poverty, we must get our act together on two fronts,” Kibaki said at a re-opening ceremony for parliament.

“Our politics must promote political stability and public confidence in the future of our country. Secondly we must take policy initiatives that will reduce and maintain low interest rates.”

Kenya’s economic growth was slowed down sharply by a bloody post-election crisis in early 2008. A prolonged drought and the global economic crisis compounded the effects, slowing growth to 1.7 percent in 2008, after expansion of 7.1 percent in the previous year.

Its recovery back to a path of robust growth is sometimes overshadowed by bitter rows in the grand coalition government that Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga formed after international mediation to end the post-election crisis.

The latest row between the coalition partners was sparked by the suspension of two ministers whose ministries have been accused of graft. The disagreement caused uncertainty and pushed the shilling to an eight month low against the dollar.

Kibaki had quashed an order issued by the prime minister for the two ministers, including former Odinga ally and agriculture minister William Ruto, to step down and allow investigations of corruption in their ministries.



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