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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK
The race to be Kenya's next leader
President Daniel arap Moi
President Moi wants Uhuru Kenyatta to succeed him
Kenyan journalist Gray Phombeah, writing for BBC News Online, gives his personal views on those lining up to be the East African country's next president with one star suggesting a slight chance and five stars a strong chance of success.

As President Daniel arap Moi prepares to step down after almost 25 years at the helm, individual family histories could well decide who succeeds him

Three sons of prominent political leaders are in the race for the ruling party's presidential nomination - as well as an old and fragile opposition leadership that through disunity has failed twice to dislodge President Moi from power.

Ruling party - Kanu

Has ruled Kenya since Independence in 1963, most of the time under a one-party system.

  • Uhuru Kenyatta

    Kanu vice chairman and local government minister.

    His only claim to political prominence is that he is the son of Kenya's first president, Jomo Kenyatta.

    Uhuru Kenyatta
    Uhuru: Will the son also rise?
    But backed by President Moi, Uhuru Kenyatta, 42, is seen as the front runner in the race to replace him.

    He has had a meteoric rise in five years from a failed MP to heir apparent.

    He belongs to the powerful Kikuyu tribe that benefited enormously under his father's presidency but who felt sidelined under Mr Moi.

    The Kikuyu are expected to back one of their own, despite their misgivings about the little known Uhuru being forced upon them over other seasoned Kikuyu politicians.

    Uhuru's rise
    1997: Fails to win parliamentary seat
    1999: Appointed chairman, Kenya Tourism Board
    2001: October, Nominated as MP by President Moi
    2001: November, appointed local government minister
    2002: March, elected vice chairman of Kanu
    2002: July, President Moi names Uhuru his heir apparent

    He has been receiving support from other tribes as well: Mr Moi's Rift Valley province was the first to rally behind him, North Eastern has followed suit, and Coast and Eastern provinces are also expected to toe the line.

    Uhuru Kenyatta is also seen as untainted by political scandals, having devoted himself to business rather than politics.

    Shortcomings: Lack of experience, likes his beer and chain smokes.

  • Raila Odinga

    Kanu secretary general and energy minister.

    He was one of the front runners to replace Moi until Uhuru Kenyatta arrived on the scene.

    He is the son of Oginga Odinga, Kenya's first vice president under Jomo Kenyatta.

    Raila Odinga
    Raila: Like father like son

    But Raila Odinga, unlike Uhuru, earned his place on Kenya's political scene in the opposition and in Kenya's jails.

    His claim to the throne was helped by the merger between his NDP party and Kanu.

    But that may not have been the smartest move.

    Mr Odinga, 57, is viewed with suspicion by Kanu insiders - an outsider who cannot be trusted.

    He has the support of his Luo tribe, the third biggest in Kenya, but that would not be enough to win him the Kanu nomination or the throne.

    He could be the biggest loser - unless he backs Mr Kenyatta and waits for the crumbs.

    Shortcomings: Arrogance, outsider in the ruling party.

  • George Saitoti

    Vice president until being ruthlessly sacked by President Moi on 30 August for disloyalty.

    He was vice president for 13 years, but never cultivated his own power base within the party.

    George Saitoti
    Saitoti: Yesterday's man?

    Mr Saitoti claims to be a Masai, while his opponents say he is a Kikuyu.

    He has not been able to shake off the dual tribal identity which has hurt his chances of taking over from Moi even before the race began.

    Mr Moi removed him from the Kanu vice chairmanship and has told him to abandon any dreams of ascending to power.

    Shortcomings: Never his own man and as a professor of mathematics failed to muster the political game of numbers.

  • Kalonzo Musyoka

    Kanu vice chairman and information and tourism minister.
    Kalonzo Musyoka
    Musyoka: A spoiler or serious contender

    He comes from the Eastern province which has a strong following for Kanu.

    A newcomer in Kenyan politics who should know his place.

    It has been rumoured that he may bow out of the race and back Uhuru Kenyatta, but he has strongly denied this.


    Six opposition parties have launched an umbrella party.

    They have not settled yet on a single candidate, but they have pledged to rally behind one figure.

  • Mwai Kibaki

    Democratic Party leader and better known for his love of golf.

    Mwai  Kibaki
    Kibaki: Belongs to the old generation of leaders

    He is a former vice president under Mr Moi's regime and served as finance minister under Jomo Kenyatta.

    He is the most prominent Kikuyu leader but is bound to split the Kikuyu vote with Uhuru Kenyatta.

    He remains the opposition's best known politician but other tribes may shun him for fear of earlier Kikuyu excesses if they return to power.

    Shortcoming: At 72, he is among the old guard of leaders and may do better to concentrate on his golf.

  • Kijana Wamalwa

    Ford-Kenya leader, aged 52.

    Kijana Wamalwa
    Wamalwa: Mr Nice Guy who loves to watch cartoons on telly

    A gentle and eloquent politician fond of quoting Shakespeare.

    He shares the Luhya vote with Kanu's Musalia Mudavadi and would not attract much support from other tribes.

    Verdict: Too much a Mr Nice Guy with a penchant for watching cartoons on television.

  • Charity Ngilu

    National Party of Kenya leader, and in her early 50s.

    Charity Ngilu
    Ngilu: Beauty and the beasts

    She is the second woman to have stood for the presidency in Kenya's history, coming fifth in 1997.

    She had been popular with the poor in eastern Kenya, her home province.

    The allure seems to have worn off and she will find the going tough this time, even on her turf in Eastern province.

  • Simeon Nyachae

    Ford People party candidate, aged 72.

    A former powerful cabinet minister who fell out with Moi.

    He belongs to the proud Kisii tribe, sandwiched between the Luo and the Luhya in western Kenya.

    He is known to be very well off and flies in private planes to public meetings.

    Shortcomings: Seen as self-centred and likes to flaunt his wealth.

  • Kenyans choose a new president

    Key stories

    Inauguration day

    Moi steps down




    See also:

    30 Aug 02 | Africa
    06 Aug 02 | Africa
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