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Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (born October 26, 1961) is a Kenyan politician, currently serving as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance. He is the Chairman of Kenya African National Union (KANU), the former ruling party, which is currently part of the Party of National Unity (PNU). Nominated to Parliament in 2001, he became Minister for Local Government under President Daniel arap Moi and, despite his political inexperience, was favored by President Moi as his successor; Kenyatta ran as KANU's candidate in the December 2002 presidential election, but lost to opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki by a large margin. He subsequently became Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. He backed Kibaki for re-election in the December 2007 presidential election and was named Minister of Local Government by Kibaki in January 2008, before becoming Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade in April 2008 as part of a coalition government. He is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president (1964–1978). His name, Uhuru, is Swahili for "freedom".

To his supporters Uhuru Kenyatta is a visionary leader. To his detractors the heavy-smoking man is a reluctant politician. Being the son of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Uhuru's upbringing was steeped in politics.

According to Uhuru, "Growing up in the Kenyatta household taught us many things. My father taught us to treat everyone fairly. He taught us the essence of justice and fairness, he told us to learn from history but not to live in history."

He attended the prestigious St Mary's School in Nairobi, where his former schoolmates remember him as one of the brightest students. From there he went on to study political science at Amherst College, USA. He is also reputed to be a shrewd businessman, having long played a central role in the vast family business empire.

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Political life

His initial entry into politics came through his election as the chairman of his hometown branch of the ruling party, KANU, in 1997. This came with the tacit approval of President Moi. At the time, many saw the election as a calculated move to prepare Uhuru for bigger things.

In the general election held the same year, Uhuru contested the Gatundu South Constituency parliamentary seat, once held by his father. It was assumed he would sail through. But that was not be: Uhuru lost to Moses Mwihia, a little-known Nairobi architect. After losing the election, Uhuru's friends say that he was extremely upset and that he vowed to quit politics altogether.

He hurriedly retreated to the family business empire that includes five-star tourist hotels, airlines and commercial farming. Little did Uhuru know that President Moi was still intent on propelling him onto the national political scene.

In 1999 Moi appointed Uhuru the new chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board, where he worked with Kenya's political power-broker Nicholas Biwott, a very close confidante of the president. Apparently the young Uhuru was undergoing even more intensive training. Then came October 2001 and Uhuru was nominated to parliament and subsequently to the cabinet as Minister for Local Government. In March of this year Uhuru Kenyatta made it big on the national political scene when he was elected as one of the four national vice-chairmen of KANU.

President Moi paid a heavy price for ensuring Kenyatta was KANU's presidential candidate, with several senior party figures, their own ambitions thwarted, resigning to set up another party (the Liberal Democratic Party).

In the presidential election held on December 27, 2002, Kenyatta was soundly defeated by opposition leader Mwai Kibaki, taking only 31% of the vote against 62% for Kibaki; this marked the end of KANU's continuous 39 years of rule since independence. Many attributed Kenyatta's defeat to his association with the retiring President Moi, whose long rule was widely regarded as hopelessly corrupt and ineffectual. He was also seen to be lacking experience and his campaign team lacked the big names, most of whom had left KANU to join the opposition NARC. Despite losing the presidential election, Uhuru Kenyatta won an MP seat at the Gatundu south constituency.

Since he joined Moi's inner circle, Uhuru Kenyatta has been fighting to prove that he is his own man and not Moi's stooge. In late January 2005, Uhuru Kenyatta defeated Nicholas Biwott for chairmanship of KANU, taking 2,980 votes among party delegates against Biwott's 622.[1]

Uhuru led his party Kanu in Campaigns against the draft constitution in 2005, having teamed up with the Liberal Democratic Party to form the Orange Democratic Movement. This saw Kenyans humiliate the government by rejecting the draft constitution by a noticeable margin.

In November 2006, Kenyatta was displaced as KANU leader by Biwott, although Kenyatta said he would not accept the decision. [1][2] On December 28, 2006, the High Court of Kenya reinstated Uhuru Kenyatta as KANU chairman. However, further court proceedings followed. [3] On June 28, 2007, the High Court confirmed Kenyatta as party leader, ruling that there was insufficient evidence for Biwott's argument that Kenyatta had joined another party.[2]

On September 13, 2007, Kenyatta withdrew from the December 2007 presidential election and said that he would back Kibaki for re-election.[3] He said that he did not want to run unless he could be sure of winning.[4]

Following the election, which proved extremely controversial when Kibaki was declared the victor despite claims of fraud from challenger Raila Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement, Kibaki appointed Kenyatta as Minister for Local Government on January 8, 2008.[5] After Kibaki and Odinga reached a power-sharing agreement, Kenyatta was named Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade on April 13, 2008, as part of the Grand Coalition Cabinet. He is the Deputy Prime Minister representing the PNU, while another Deputy Prime Minister, Musalia Mudavadi, represents the ODM.[6][7][8] Kenyatta and the rest of the Cabinet were sworn in on April 17.[9][10]

Kenyatta was moved from the post of Minister for Trade to that of Minister for Finance on January 23, 2009, while remaining Deputy Prime Minister.[11]

Budget Fraud Scandal 2009

In April 29, 2009, Uhuru Kenyatta presented a supplemental budget that was approved by parliament. The supplemental budget was to cover the budget gap that had arisen due to slow economic growth. The government required an additional Kshs 38 billion, but compromised on a figure of Kshs 22 billion and non essential proposed expenditure was postponed as a result. After voting on the bill brought forward by Kenyatta, Gitobu Imanyara brought up discrepancy questions as to what exactly had been approved by the house. It appeared that parliament had voted on Kshs 31 billion as opposed to Kshs 22 billion that they thought they were voting on - the difference totaling Kshs 9.2 billion. The Dept. Prime Minister initially defended the budget that had been passed but later admitted that there were computer or typographical errors in budget bill. An investigation by the CID and a Parliamentary committee was ordered by the Speaker, to question him on the discrepancies.[12] He was later cleared of any wrong doing by the Joint Finance and Budgetary Committee on the issue.[13]

References

  1. ^ "Kenyatta wins Moi party election", BBC News, February 1, 2005.
  2. ^ "Kenyan opposition leader's position upheld", Associated Press (IOL), June 29, 2007.
  3. ^ Carol Gakii, "Uhuru pulls out of the presidential race", Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, September 13, 2007.
  4. ^ "Ex-rival backs Kibaki re-election", BBC News, September 14, 2007.
  5. ^ "Kenya: Kibaki Names Cabinet", The East African Standard (allAfrica.com), January 8, 2008.
  6. ^ "Kenya unveils 40-seat cabinet", Al Jazeera, April 13, 2008.
  7. ^ "Kenya unveils coalition cabinet", BBC News, April 13, 2008.
  8. ^ Anthony Kariuki, "Kibaki names Raila PM in new Cabinet", nationmedia.com, April 13, 2008.
  9. ^ Eric Ombok, "Kenya's Raila Odinga Sworn in as Prime Minister, Ending Crisis", Bloomberg.com, April 17, 2008.
  10. ^ "Odinga sworn in as Kenya PM", Al Jazeera, April 17, 2008.
  11. ^ "Kibaki recalls tainted minister", Sapa-AFP (IOL), January 23, 2009.
  12. ^ "Speaker orders probe into ‘missing’ Sh9 billion", Daily Nation, May 6 2009.
  13. ^ "MPs clear Kenya minister over budget scandal", Capital FM, May 13, 2009.

External links

uhuru's Profile on Zindua Kiongozi

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