Kenya's justice minister on Tuesday announced her resignation, citing interference from above with her reform agenda, in a move that further rattled the east African nation's fragile coalition.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga rushed to her defence, alleging that President Mwai Kibaki was guilty of a systematic lack of respect for the power-sharing deal aimed at defusing post-poll chaos a year ago.
"I am being sidelined in my own docket, how do you expect me to discharge my duties as minister? That is why I have opted to quit the government today," Justice Minister Martha Karua said after a meeting of her NARC-Kenya party.
"I realised I cannot institute reforms in my ministry as justice minister because I am being undermined. Judges are being appointed without my knowledge and a lot more," she said.
Karua was alluding to a series of recent appointments made by Kibaki, whom she supported in the disputed December 2007 presidential elections.
Although Karua was in the rival camp, Odinga implicitly supported her move with his strongest public attack on Kibaki since the immediate aftermath of the ill-fated 2007 elections.
"There must be mutual respect between the two principals in the coalition but this has not been the case because our partner appears to think that they have monopoly over government decision," he said at an event in Mombasa.