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Kenya's President Promotes Younger Party Leaders - 2001-10-05

News reports say the son of Kenya's founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, has been appointed to parliament, apparently strengthening the hand of the ruling party's younger generation. This could be an important indication as to who President Daniel arap Moi will choose as his successor.

Political analyst, Kwendo Opanga, says 40-year-old Uhuru Kenyatta is one of a crop of youthful politicians to whom President Moi has hinted he will hand over power when he retires next year.

"The president appears to have set on a course of putting in place a team he would like to see take over when he exits," said Mr. Opanga. "And he himself has been saying for at least three, four, five weeks now that he wants to see younger people in leadership, when he eventually retires."

The year 2002 will be important for Kenyans, ushering in their first new president since 1978.

No one knows who President Moi will choose as his successor. And every move he makes is feverishly analyzed for clues.

Mr. Opanga believes President Moi could be promoting Mr. Kenyatta to win votes from his Kikuyu tribes-people. The Kikuyu are Kenya's largest tribe, and are staunchly pro-opposition. He believes Mr. Kenyatta will soon be given a cabinet position.

However, Mr. Opanga does not see him as the ruling party's next presidential candidate. In the last elections, Mr. Kenyatta was soundly defeated, when he stood for parliament in his father's former constituency.

According to Mr. Opanga, Mr. Kenyatta's appointment is more significant in strengthening the hand of his friend, Musalia Mudavadi, in the race for the presidency. "We don't know who the front-runner at the moment is," he said. "The president would be wary of a situation where somebody is pointed out as the front-runner. Most people have the impression that the Minister for Transport and Communications, Mr. Musalia Mudavadi, may be the front-runner. Uhuru and Musalia are very close friends, so there is that link. People think the president has a soft spot for these two."

The name Uhuru means 'freedom' in the Kiswahili language. It was given to Mr. Kenyatta to symbolize his father's release from colonial imprisonment a few weeks before his birth.