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 Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK
Third time lucky for Mwai Kibaki?
Mwai Kibaki
Mwai Kibaki has his eyes on the main prize

Kenya's nearly man, Mwai Kibaki, is finally within sight of the prize he has long sought.

The 71-year-old former vice president lost two elections in the 1990s, as a fractious and divided opposition split the vote against President Daniel arap Moi.

Career facts
1969-1982: Finance minister
1978 -1988: Vice president
1991: Founds Democratic Party
1992: Third in presidential election
1997: Second in presidential election
After his last narrow defeat to President Moi in 1997, it was thought he might retreat to his beloved golf courses and his farm.

But his political longevity is proving to be his greatest asset, for after 24 years Mr Moi is stepping down leaving Mr Kibaki with his best chance yet of becoming head of state.

In this presidential election expected by the end of the year, Mr Kibaki will face Mr Moi's protégé, 41-year-old Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first leader and a political novice who was defeated when he attempted to win a parliamentary seat in 1997.

Crucially, Mr Kibaki has also painstakingly put together an opposition alliance, first with established political groups and then more recently with a large group of ruling party politicians that defected in protest at Mr Moi's energetic campaigning for Uhuru Kenyatta.


Mr Kibaki has many strengths - which has enabled his active political career to span five decades.

Charity Ngilu and George Saitoti
Keeping Kenya's opposition from fracturing is going to be tough
He is a well respected economist, and seen as clean and honest. A strong combination at a time when Kenya is mired in corruption scandals and beset by economic problems.

He is also a popular politician and his experience and age is likely to be used as a trump card in comparison with the relative youth and inexperience of Uhuru Kenyatta.

He is also known for a quick sense of humour. When once asked what to do about a troublesome opponent he remarked with dry wit that every market had a madman.

Career highs

Born in 1931 on the slopes of Mount Kenya, he is from Kenya's largest tribe, the Kikuyu, as is Uhuru Kenyatta.

Uhuru Kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta is hoping to follow in his father's footsteps
After studying in Uganda and London, he became a lecturer, but in the early 1960s gave it up to help in Kenya's push for independence.

He helped draft Kenya's constitution, was elected as an MP in 1963 and has held his seat ever since.

He was finance minister throughout the 1970s and vice president for much of the 1980s, serving ably under the country's first president, Jomo Kenyatta, and then his successor President Moi.

When a long-standing ban on opposition parties was lifted in 1991, Mr Kibaki left the ruling party, Kanu, to found the Democratic Party, which he still leads.

He came third in the first multi-party elections in 1992 and then came a close second to President Moi in the last polls in 1997 when there were 15 candidates.


If he has a weakness, then he is seen as somewhat aloof by ordinary Kenyans.

Opposition supporters
The opposition have a great deal of support
He also faces two main challenges if he is to end almost 40 years of uninterrupted rule by Kanu.

He needs to keep the opposition alliance together, avoiding splitting their vote along tribal lines.

He also needs to be on guard against state orchestrated violence, which a recent judicial investigation found had taken place in the past two campaigns.

His experience suggests he has a better chance than any other opposition figure of thwarting President Moi's plans to run Kenya from one of his retirement homes.

  BBC's Kariuki Wa Mureithi reports on Focus on Africa
"Kibaki named as opposition candidate"
  Mwai Kibaki on BBC Network Africa
"There's no way we can fall apart"
Is Kenyatta the right man to replace Moi?



13816 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Kenyans choose a new president

Key stories

Inauguration day

Moi steps down




See also:

14 Oct 02 | Africa
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18 Sep 02 | Africa
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