By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK (IDN) — Kenya’s former president Mwai Kibaki leaves a mixed legacy of economic reforms and a new constitution alongside a controversial election which led to deadly violence and entrenched corruption.
His death at 90 years of age was announced by his successor, President Uhuru Kenyatta. A British-educated economist, Kibaki assumed the presidency after four decades as a lawmaker, government minister and then vice president to his predecessor, Daniel arap Moi.
Mr Kibaki was part of the generation that led the country out from British colonial rule to independence in 1963. He was an early member of the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party and a Kikuyu, the largest ethnic group in the country.
Some of his early achievements included improving access to education, universal health care and ending the corruption that affected every level of Kenyan life, from obtaining a telephone to appearing before a judge.
In 2007 he faced a strong re-election challenge from Raila Odinga. When a landslide vote appeared to give Mr. Odinga the edge, election officials stopped releasing vote tallies, blocked reporters from giving results and declared Mr. Kibaki the winner. He was swiftly sworn in as president on election night, prompting observers from the European Union to charge that the results “lacked credibility”.
Violence erupted throughout the country and more than 1,100 people were killed in election violence.
In 2008, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, stepped in to broker a power-sharing deal in which Mr Kibaki would stay on as president while his rival, Odinga, would become prime minister.
Under this somewhat uneasy arrangement, a new constitution was approved in 2010, limiting some presidential powers and strengthening ethics provisions.
Over the years, Mr Kibaki became one of Kenya’s wealthiest people, causing his top anti-corruption watchdog, John Githongo to resign.
He resigned his office in 2013 but not before receiving a generous retirement package that allowed him to live in luxury in his Nairobi apartment and at his country estate.
Announcing a period of national mourning, President Uhuru Kenyatta eulogized the former leader as a “quintessential patriot whose legacy of civic responsibility will continue to inspire generations of Kenyans long into the future.” Similar messages of condolence were received from leaders across the continent. [IDN-InDepthNews – 26 April 2022]
Photo: In this file photo taken on September 23, 2010 Former President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki delivering an address during the 65th session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York. Source: File photo by Don EMMERT | AFP
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