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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Fears of power vacuum in Kenya
President Moi
President Moi's absence is an opportunity for mischief
Calls are growing for President Daniel arap Moi to hurry up and name a replacement for sacked Vice President George Saitoti as Kenyans ponder who is in charge.

Opposition MPs and religious leaders have expressed concerns that a power vacuum has developed, with the Kenyan leader out of the country in South Africa for the development summit.


Kenyans are worried about the irresponsible behaviour of President Moi in creating a serious leadership vacuum

Opposition MP Charity Ngilu
And an assistant minister has questioned who is now running the show.

With no deputy in situ, constitutionally the cabinet would be required to meet and name a replacement if anything were to happen to President Moi.

But an acrimonious split has developed within the ruling party with many senior party figures, including Mr Saitoti, opposing President Moi's choice to succeed him, Uhuru Kenyatta, in December general elections.

George Saitoti
Saitoti was sacked as vice president on Friday

Groups of religious leaders and opposition MPs are saying the cabinet would not be able to agree on any single individual, leaving the country in a constitutional crisis.

The National Alliance for Change grouping led by presidential hopeful Charity Ngilu told journalists: "Kenyans are worried about the irresponsible behaviour of President Moi in creating a serious leadership vacuum by leaving the country for a foreign trip without naming an acting president."

Assistant foreign affairs minister Peter Odoyo told the Kenyan newspaper, the Daily Nation, that he thought the president was keeping the VP post open to boost the Uhuru campaign by dangling the post as a carrot to encourage a senior figure to support his campaign.

Election race

On Monday, Raila Odinga, the ruling party's secretary general and a leading contender to succeed President Daniel arap Moi criticised the sacking of the vice president saying it was "undermining the democratic principles" of the ruling party.

And he said that if he himself was sacked as energy minister because of his bid for the party leadership, it was a price he was willing to pay.

Uhuru Kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta: Moi's choice of successor
Mr Odinga said the vice president had been "sacrificed" because he had decided to stand for the leadership of Kanu.

President Moi has warned opponents not to rock the boat.

With elections due by the end of the year, four senior Kanu leaders are challenging for nomination as presidential candidate in opposition to Mr Kenyatta, whose father was Kenya's first president.

Meanwhile, the official leader of the opposition, Mwai Kibaki, has dismissed the defection of Njenga Karume, a patron of the opposition Democratic Party, to the Uhuru Kenyatta camp.

In a report in the East African Standard, Mr Kibaki accused his prominent backer of switching camps for personal interests, and criticised the Uhuru campaign for a grand scheme to divide and rule based on President Moi's tribal arithmetic.

Kenyans choose a new president

Key stories

Inauguration day

Moi steps down

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See also:

30 Aug 02 | Africa
06 Aug 02 | Africa
21 Nov 01 | Africa
28 Mar 02 | Africa
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