Page last updated at 19:16 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Kenya leader denies 'second wife'

Kenya's first couple, Mwai and Lucy Kibaki
President Mwai Kibaki threatened to sue anyone repeating the rumours

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki has held a rare press conference to deny rumours that he has a second wife.

Mr Kibaki said he was in a "foul mood" and warned that anyone repeating the rumours would see him "in court".

His wife, Lucy, accused the media of "tormenting" her, and said she had she considered attacking one TV station.

The BBC's Anne Mawathe in Nairobi says the president's office has denied the rumours several times in the past but they have refused to die.

Observers had said it was common knowledge that another woman was given protection on the level of the first family after Mr Kibaki took office in 2002.

But, flanked by his wife and senior government officials, Mr Kibaki told the news conference: "I want to make it very clear that I have only one dear wife, Lucy, who's here, and I do not have any other.

"Anybody who knows me and knows my family and knows how I live - they know I have only one wife."

He said he had "gotten into this foul mood" after hearing about the rumours again in recent days, and that he would take to court anyone "bent on that course" of repeating them.

Strained politics

A visibly angry Mrs Kibaki then told the news conference: "You keep tormenting us, I don't know what you get out of it."

In this Jan. 24, 2008 file picture Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, left, shake hands with opposition leader Raila Odinga, right, in Nairobi, Kenya.

She told one station, NTV: "I almost came to your station last night to attack you."

Mrs Kibaki is well known for her angry outbursts at the media.

In 2005 she stormed the offices of The Daily Nation newspaper to protest against its portrayal of her and her family, slapping a cameraman who filmed the incident.

And in 2007, she slapped an official who mistakenly referred to her by the name of the woman who was alleged to be Mr Kibaki's mistress.

The news briefing comes at a time when the political marriage between Mr Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is also under strain, says our correspondent.

The coalition government, formed to end the post-election crisis last year, has been dogged by corruption allegations and rumours of disunity.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has accused the country's leaders of "losing momentum", and analysts say the general public has become frustrated with the lack of progress.

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