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Moi Promises to Hand Over Power to Winner of Kenya Election - 2002-12-12

Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi marked the country's independence day with a speech in which he promised to hand over power to whoever wins the presidential election at the end of the month.

Making his 24th, and final independence day speech as Kenya's president, President Moi said he will hand over power to the candidate who wins the December 27 elections.

"I will soon be bidding you farewell as your president. I will, as is my constitutional duty, be handing over the reins of office to my successor, your new president," he said. "This will be done smoothly. This is my desire and pledge."

Kenya's constitution bars President Moi, 78, from standing in the upcoming elections.

With his chosen successor Uhuru Kenyatta trailing in the polls, there has been some anxiety that President Moi would refuse to surrender power if opposition presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki wins.

A poll commissioned by the Washington-based International Republican Institute predicts former Vice President Mr. Kibaki of the National Rainbow Coalition will have a landslide victory, with 68 per cent of the vote.

Mr. Kenyatta, a political novice whose main selling point is that he is the son of Kenya's founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, is predicted to win about 22 percent of the vote.

In his speech, Mr. Moi spent little time discussing the upcoming election, focusing instead on his own future. He said once he leaves office he will spend his retirement working to bring peace to Kenya's warring neighbors.

"I will be approaching the resolution of conflicts in our region through a region peace institute to be set up under the Moi Foundation," he said. "I will work with people from our region and outside this region. It is abundantly clear to me that no one will come to Africa to resolve these conflicts we must do so ourselves."

President Moi has been at the forefront of efforts to end Sudan's 19-year civil war. Kenya has also played a leading role in regional attempts to bring peace to Burundi and Somalia.