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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Kenya names new vice-president
Moody Awori
Awori named vice-president to maintain delicate tribal balance
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has named his close ally and veteran politician Moody Awori as vice-president, one month after the death of his previous deputy.

Mr Awori, 76, has been the minister for home affairs since President Kibaki led the then opposition National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) to an election victory against the Kenya African National Union (Kanu) which ruled Kenya for 39 years.

Mr Awori's appointment follows the death on 23 August of the former vice-president, Michael Wamalwa, at London's Royal Free Hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment for an undisclosed illness.

Mr Awori comes from the Luhya ethnic community - the second largest in Kenya - whose support was crucial in the elections that saw the exit of Daniel arap Moi, who ruled Kenya for 24 years.

Tribal balance

Observers say the appointment is an attempt to preserve the delicate tribal balance inside the ruling Narc, which in recent days has been plagued by internal wrangling over appointments to senior political positions.

Leading Narc and government officials have disagreed in public over who should be appointed the new vice-president and also over the creation of a prime minister's post in a draft constitution that is being debated.

Since his appointment as minister for home affairs Mr Awori, commonly referred to by many Kenyans as "Uncle Moody", has carried out major reforms in Kenya's prison service.

Health concerns

The multi-millionaire businessman-cum-politician also served as an assistant minister in Mr Moi's government before leading a group of senior Kanu politicians who defected to the opposition shortly before the December 2002 general elections.

There have been concerns about the health of President Kibaki following a car accident during the election campaigns, with the president coming under immense pressure in recent days to name a deputy.

The long-awaited announcement comes just before Mr Kibaki leaves for the US on an official visit.

Since Mr Wamalwa died there has been speculation about a possible power vacuum if the president left the country.

Obituary: Michael Kijana Wamalwa
23 Aug 03  |  Africa
Kenya's vice-president dies
23 Aug 03  |  Africa
Kenya's new era assessed
08 Apr 03  |  Africa
Kenyan leader back in hospital
20 Jan 03  |  Africa
Boost for Kenyan opposition
09 Dec 02  |  Africa

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