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 Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 11:47 GMT
Profile: Kenya's new leader
Mwai Kibaki
Third time lucky for Mwai Kibaki

The man set to be Kenya's third president, Mwai Kibaki, is no stranger to government having served under outgoing leader Daniel arap Moi.

But when multi-party politics came to Kenya a decade ago, the 71-year-old switched to the opposition, fighting and losing the last two elections.

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 proved to be his greatest asset, for with Mr Moi stepping down after 24 years in power, Mr Kibaki has finally made it to State House.

Crucially, unlike in the previous two elections, Mr Kibaki put together a broad based alliance, the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc), which brought together opposition politicians and a large group of ruling party politicians unhappy at Mr Moi's promotion of the young and ultimately unsuccessful candidate Uhuru Kenyatta.


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

President Moi
Kenyans find it hard to believe Moi is stepping down
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 also helped him keep Kenyan opposition politicians united behind him.

His age will mean that talk of a successor will already have begun before he has even held his first cabinet meeting.

A campaign accident, which left him with limited mobility, has also done little to suggest his stay in office will be long.

Career highs

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

Charity Ngilu and George Saitoti
Kibaki kept Kenya's opposition from fracturing
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.


Although he has a dry sense of humour, he is viewed as somewhat aloof by ordinary Kenyans.

Uhuru Kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta: Moi's man lacked experience
Now having succeeded in ending almost 40 years of uninterrupted rule by Kanu, he faces the tricky task of keeping the egos in check of a diverse range of politicians he will bring together in government.

He is determined to introduce a new constitution, but his main priority is to tackle Kenya's struggling economy.

The lucrative tourist industry suffered a major blow with last month's Mombasa attack and donors have withheld much needed aid because of Kenya poor corruption record.

Kenyans are hoping that the decisions he takes in the next few months will mean an upturn in Kenya's fortunes after a long period of decline.

Kenyans choose a new president

Key stories

Inauguration day

Moi steps down




See also:

10 Oct 02 | Africa
18 Sep 02 | Africa
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