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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 18:38 GMT
Moi's golden handshake
President Daniel arap Moi
Moi's retirement promises to be lavish
By Gray Phombeah in Nairobi

President Daniel arap Moi, who has dominated Kenyan politics for almost a quarter of a century, is constitutionally bound to leave office this year.

Kenya's first President Jomo Kenyatta
Kenya's first president died in his sleep

But for the first time since independence in 1963, supporters and critics alike are confronted with the question of how to say goodbye to a living president.

Kenya's first president, Jomo Kenyatta, saved Kenyans the agony by dying in his sleep in August 1978.

More than two decades later, Kenyans are now faced with the unfamiliar prospect of President Moi becoming Citizen Moi.

And despite the president's allegedly fabulous personal wealth, the country is now pondering how you give one of Africa's longest serving presidents a golden handshake.

Official acknowledgement

President Moi has in recent years seemed reluctant to step down, sending conflicting and ambiguous messages as to whether he will retire or who would succeed him if he does.

Slum dweller flees violence
Critics say Moi leaves behind poverty and violence

During his last term of office, the issue of his retirement became a taboo subject among government officials, especially those belonging to his ruling Kanu party.

But in the first ever official acknowledgement of President Moi's impending departure, Attorney General Amos Wako has said he is preparing a retirement package for the president.

This is not the first time the idea of offering President Moi a retirement package has been mooted.

Four years ago, an opposition MP came up with a Presidential Retirement Benefit motion, worth $250,000 a year.

The move was seen by Kanu officials as a bribe to entice Moi to leave office quietly after what his critics saw as years of economic mismanagement, corruption and political repression.

Although parliament passed the motion, the government did not follow up with legislation governing the benefits or entitlements for ex-presidents.

Four years later, as Kenya prepares for a general election due before the end of 2002, there is still no law outlining the president's benefits when he retires.

Huge wealth

In reality, the president is hardly short of cash.

His personal wealth has been compared to that of Zaire's late dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko.

He is reported to own seven grand homes across the country and has been associated with 30 major business firms in Kenya.

Critics of the president are unlikely to be pleased by the prospect of funding what promises to be a lavish retirement for the president.

They say he is leaving the country burdened with massive foreign debt, failing infrastructure, accusations of widespread human rights abuses and continued ethnic tension.

See also:

22 Oct 01 | Africa
Moi's comments create a stir
21 Nov 01 | Africa
Kenyatta son ascends to cabinet
14 Jun 01 | Africa
Kenya's 'most important man'
02 Jul 01 | Africa
Kenya ponders HIV hanging call
10 Jul 00 | Africa
Campaign to keep Moi in power
13 Sep 99 | Africa
Poll says Moi should go in 2002
03 Sep 01 | Africa
Dividing Kenya along ethnic lines
07 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kenya
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