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Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta was born in on 26th October 1961. He is the son of the founding president of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and his fourth wife, Mama Ngina Kenyatta. The name ‘Uhuru’ is borrowed from Swahili and it means freedom. Perhaps Jomo Kenyatta gave Uhuru Kenyatta this name in anticipation of Kenya’s freedom from the British colonizers. Kenya gained independence on 12th December 1963, replacing the Union Jack with the Kenyan flag.

Uhuru Kenyatta went to St. Mary’s School, a strict Roman Catholic School in Nairobi for his A levels. While at St. Mary’s Uhuru Kenyatta played rugby as a winger. After this, he held a small stint as a cashier at Kenya Commercial Bank, Kipande House Branch, Nairobi in 1979. In 1981, Uhuru Kenyatta went to Amherst college in Massachusetts, United States, where he studied political science and economics. He graduated from Amherst College with a Bachelors degree in political science and economics in 1985.

Uhuru Kenyatta formally joined politics in the 1997 election when he contested for the Gatundu South parliamentary seat but lost to Moses Muhia. After this loss, Uhuru Kenyatta contemplated dropping out all together from politics. This was however not to be the case.

In 1999, Uhuru Kenyatta was appointed chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board. In 2000, he was nominated to parliament by the ruling party KANU (Kenya African National Union) to replace Mark Too. He was in the same year appointed as the Minister for Local Government. In March, 2001, he was elected as one of the four vice chairmen of KANU.

In 2002, President Daniel arap Moi, in his 24th year of rule and recently term-limited, announced to startled leaders of his party that Uhuru Kenyatta, a relative political newcomer and son of the founding President, was his chosen successor. This led to a walk-out of the party by those who insisted that the ruling party candidate be chosen by a secret ballot at a party convention.

The 2007 general election was hotly contested. From 24 until 28 January 2008, the Mungiki criminal organisation allegedly carried out a widespread and systematic attack against the non-Kikuyu population perceived as supporting the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) (mostly belonging to Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin ethnic groups) in Nakuru and Naivasha. The attacks in or around Nakuru and Naivasha resulted in a large number of killings, displacement of thousands of people, rape, severe physical injuries, mental suffering and destruction of property.

Between, at least, November 2007 and January 2008, inter alia, Mr Kenyatta and members of the Mungiki, allegedly created a common plan to commit these attacks. According to the alleged plan, it was envisaged at the meetings that the Mungiki would carry out the attack with the purpose of keeping the Party of National Unity (PNU) in power, in exchange for an end to government repression and protection of the Mungiki's interests.

The contribution of Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta to the implementation of the common plan was allegedly essential. More specifically, Mr Kenyatta’s contribution allegedly consisted of providing institutional support, on behalf of the PNU Coalition, to secure: (i) the agreement with the Mungiki for the purpose of the commission of the commission of the crimes; and (ii) the execution on the ground of the common plan by the Mungiki in Nakuru and Naivasha.

In 8th January 2008, President Mwai Kibaki named Uhuru Kenyatta as Minister for Local Government. After the grand coalition government was formed, Uhuru Kenyatta was appointed Minister of Trade and the Deputy Prime Minister on 13th April and sworn in on 17th April of the same year. On 23rd January 2009, Uhuru Kenyatta was moved from the position of Minister for Trade to Minister for Finance. His tenure at the Finance Ministry saw him implement a number of changes in treasury.

Although in public and private Uhuru Kenyatta had avoided openly declaring presidential ambitions for 2012, by 2009 he appeared to be moving to pave the way for a presidential run. Kikuyu political dynamics seemed to be favoring Kenyatta. There has been an emerging realization among Kikuyu professionals, progressive politicians, and others that it would not be healthy for the nation or wise politically to seek to have another Kikuyu replace Kibaki. That said, however, many Kikuyus, including the still dominant political class, feared the potential consequences of electing a non-Kikuyu (the concerns include worries about their economic and political interests, including the potential for another ethnic group to exploit anti-corruption efforts against them). Kenyatta was slowly but steadily emerging as the most likely potential presidential designee of the Kikuyus -- should they decide to back a candidate for president.

Kenyatta had several major strengths, but these were balanced and potentially offset by important weaknesses. Kenyatta is bright and charming, even charismatic. He is enormously wealthy, and therefore has not had to engage in corruption. Although his wealth is the inheritance from his father's corruption, the Kenyatta family still holds a special status. Kenyatta,s liabilities are at least as important as his strengths. He drinks too much and is not a hard worker (though he surprised everyone by the acuity of the budget, which reportedly resulted from some tough work over long hours).

Perhaps most importantly, Kenyatta had been closely linked to the Mungiki (which emerged in the aftermath of the Mau Mau and began as a movement in defense of Kikuyu traditional values, but which has long since morphed into a well-organized mafia-style criminal organization). Ironically, Kenyatta's links to the Mungiki make him one of those who feels strongly that extrajudicial killing must stop (since many of the extrajudicial killings have been carried out by the police, under Commissioner Ali,s direction, against the Mungiki).

While Kibaki would not play a decisive role in designating his preferred successor, his standing as the principal Kikuyu elder and the power that State House wields, meant that obtaining his support was important.

The National Alliance Party (TNA) presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta won the March 2013 election by a razor thin margin. Kenya’s electoral commission, the IEBC, confirmed that Kenyatta won the contest with 50.07 percent of the vote. His nearest rival, outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga, challenged the results at the Supreme Court, alleging the vote counting was flawed. After two weeks of court proceedings, the six justices ruled unanimously to uphold Kenyatta’s victory.

Uhuru Kenyatta vowed to promote peace, unity and economic development at his inauguration 09 April 2013 as Kenya’s fourth president. Kenyatta and his deputy are taking power while facing charges at the International Criminal Court, which could complicate the country’s relations with the world community. Kenyatta took the oath of office in an elaborate ceremony at the Moi International Sports Center outside Nairobi. One of the country’s richest men, Kenyatta said his administration would focus on achieving peace and strengthening unity, following a divisive election.

Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was accused of five counts of crimes against humanity in the context of the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya, but the case began to unravel as witnesses started backing away from their testimony or refused to participate. Charges were withdrawn by Prosecution on 5 December 2014. ICC lead prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said there was not enough evidence to prove the charges against Kenyatta beyond a reasonable doubt. Bensouda said Kenya's government failed to provide key documents to the prosecution, which undermined her investigations and "had a severe, adverse impact" on the case. Proceedings were terminated by Trial Chamber V(B) on 13 March 2015.

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Page last modified: 03-05-2015 19:48:32 ZULU