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PROFILE: Mwai Kibaki returns to the helm in Kenya's closest-ever vote

thecheers.org    2007-12-30 09:41:05    

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner Sunday in the country's closest-ever polls, that will see the septuagenarian serve for a second five-year term at the helm of East Africa's most robust economy.
Nairobi (dpa) - Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner Sunday in the country's closest-ever polls, that will see the septuagenarian serve for a second five-year term at the helm of East Africa's most robust economy.

Kibaki, who ran for the Party of National Unity, tried to present himself as a man of the people during his campaign, attending rallies in flowery, casual shirts and shown mingling with common Kenyans in advertisements.

In the final tense days before the announcement, Kibaki was largely silent while violence gripped the nation.

The 76-year-old was elected in 2002 on an anti-graft ticket, promising to purge the government and civil service of corrupt individuals.

Critics charge he has been unsuccessful and graft scandals have surfaced throughout his tenure without so much of a slap on the wrist for those involved.

Petty bribery and low-level corruption especially among police remains a problem and Kenya is still ranked as one of the world's most graft-ridden countries by international watchdogs.

Kibaki was finance minister during the 24-year kleptocratic rule of Daniel arap Moi, who is alleged to have siphoned off millions of public dollars through mock companies, some allegedly signed off by Kibaki.

He is a veteran politician, serving as an elected member of parliament since independence in 1963.

In 2002, Kibaki formed a coalition with Raila Odinga, his closest contender this time around, but the alliance shattered when Odinga campaigned against Kibaki's new constitution three years later, which was defeated in a national referendum.

Kibaki fulfilled at least one promise, bringing in free primary education countrywide, which proponents hail as a success and critics call a bungled attempt at equal education. Classes are often overflowing and teachers are paid late if at all.

Soft-spoken and uncharismatic, Kibaki, who hails from Kenya's largest tribe, the Kikuyu, was in a car crash around the last elections and observers say he lost his momentum in the accident.

Despite his inability to flush out corruption, Kibaki's pro-free market ways have been met with an average 5-per-cent growth since he took power and a growing relationship with the United States.

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PROFILE: Mwai Kibaki returns to the helm in Kenya's closest-ever vote
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Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner Sunday in the country's closes...read



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