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Kenyan President Launches Re-Election Bid


Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has launched his bid for a second five-year term, with the creation of a new political alliance and the support of several of the country's most powerful political leaders. Nick Wadhams has the story from VOA's Nairobi bureau.

In a nationally televised speech, President Kibaki announced he will run under the new Party of National Unity. He used the address to list what he sees as the achievements from his first five-year term, which he said included free primary school education and better health care and roads.

Mr. Kibaki's new alliance will include several of the country's most prominent political groups. He will also look to capitalize on the backing he has recently received from former President Daniel Arap Moi and Uhuru Kenyatta, who said last week he would drop his own bid for president and support Kibaki.

Political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi says Mr. Kibaki is looking strong, heading into the December vote and that Kenyatta - the son of Kenya's first post-colonial leader, Jomo Kenyatta - has worked out an alliance in anticipation of the next presidential election, in 2012.

"Uhuru is doing this for the purposes of inheriting both the Moi and the Kibaki constituencies in 2012. That is his intention," Ngunyi said. "He is not doing it because he necessarily likes the two gentlemen or because he is cajoled into supporting them. You see, right now, Kibaki does not have a 'king in waiting.' And, because there is no king in waiting, Uhuru Kenyatta has basically spied that opportunity and he is positioning himself for that particular purpose."

Questions remain about Mr. Kibaki's chances. His government recently came under criticism for its failure to stamp out corruption, despite Mr. Kibaki's repeated promises to do so. And, when he ran in 2002, he promised not to seek a second term.

Mr. Kibaki is 75 years old and looking increasingly fragile. Ngunyi says that makes Kenyatta's move to back the president look even smarter.

"This is part of a generational succession - that Uhuru has spied an opportunity to effect the long-awaited generational succession. And, it might look controversial, unpopular right now, but, in the long run, I think it's one of those things that might make sense, especially for the generation in its 40's," he said.

Mr. Kibaki also faces strong challenges from two popular Kenyan politicians, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka. However, those two had a falling out and their decisions to run may split the opposition vote.

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