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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 December, 2003, 17:11 GMT
New Kenya 'personality cult' row
New 40 shilling coin
Some Kenyans would prefer to see athletes or historical monuments than politicians
A new coin bearing the image of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has sparked controversy after he promised to end personality cults.

The new 40 shilling (50 US cents) coin went into circulation on Thursday to mark 40 years of independence.

Mr Kibaki had criticised his predecessor Daniel arap Moi for having his image on the currency.

Earlier this year, notes bearing the portrait of founding President Jomo Kenyatta were introduced.

The notes were introduced after a pledge by the ruling Narc coalition, to end the "personality cult" in Kenya.

Collectors' items

Other new currencies unveiled include a re-designed 200 shilling note, a 5,000 shilling gold coin and a 1,000 shilling silver coin. These coins also feature Mr Kibaki's image.

Central bank governor Andrew Mullei said only the 40 shilling coin and 200 shilling note, that has the portrait of founding President Jomo Kenyatta, will be in circulation.

The others will be collectors' items.

But many Kenyans feel the currency should have portraits of other personalities like athletes or Kenya's historical monuments rather than politicians.

President Kibaki, who launched the currencies, kept away from the controversy and instead urged investors to take advantage of Kenya's improved economic environment, symbolised by the resumption of IMF funding.

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