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Kenyan Vice President Announces Presidential Bid - 2002-08-14

Kenyan Vice President George Saitoti Wednesday announced that he intends to run for president when elections are called later this year. The move is seen as further evidence of a major split in President Daniel Arap Moi's own party.

Arriving in Nairobi from a trip to London, Mr. Saitoti made public his presidential ambitions as a member of Kenya's ruling Kanu party.

"After seeking guidance from a broad cross section of Kenyans," he said, " I hereby announce that I intend to seek nomination for the Kanu ticket at Kasarani and to run for president of this great nation when elections are called."

Three other government ministers have also announced their intention to vie for the top job.

But it is Mr. Saitoti's candidacy that is seen as the most potentially damaging for President Moi. In his 13 years as vice president, Mr. Saitoti earned a reputation as one of Mr. Moi's most loyal aides.

His bid for the presidency is, therefore, seen as further proof of the widespread opposition within Kanu to Mr. Moi's campaign to have Uhuru Kenyatta succeed him as president.

Observers say President Moi has chosen the politically inexperienced Mr. Kenyatta because he believes he can manipulate him.

It is also believed Mr. Kenyatta, who as son of the Kenya's founder and first president is part of the establishment, is not likely to delve into allegations of corruption against the country's ruling elite.

Mr. Saitoti, on the other hand, is believed to want to clear his name of allegations that he was involved in a scam to loot millions from the treasury.

President Moi held a meeting of senior Kanu officials Monday to plan for the national delegates conference at which the party's presidential contender will be chosen. Mr. Moi wants the decision to be made by acclamation, or a show of hands, while his opponents in the party are pushing for a secret ballot.