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Kenyan Presidential Candidate Returns Home - 2002-12-14

Thousands of supporters lined the streets of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Saturday to welcome opposition presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki. Mr. Kibaki, who is predicted to win elections later this month, flew home from London where he was treated following a serious car accident.

There was a carnival atmosphere as thousands began gathering at the airport at daybreak. They were singing and dancing as they waited for National Rainbow Coalition presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki to arrive.

Mr. Kibaki had flown to London 10 days earlier to receive specialized hospital treatment following a serious car crash.

Roads from the airport were lined with cheering supporters. It took three hours for Mr. Kibaki's convoy of more than 500 vehicles to make its way to the city center.

Mr. Kibaki traveled in an open top van, sitting in a wheelchair with his neck supported by a brace. His personal physician was by his side.

A huge crowd of supporters later gathered in Uhuru Park where they held a prayer meeting.

There has been a great deal of anxiety over Mr. Kibaki's health following his accident. His running mate, Michael Wamalwa, has also been in a London hospital, apparently suffering from gout.

A recent opinion poll indicated Mr. Kibaki, a 72-year-old former Vice President, will win a landslide victory in Kenya's December 27 elections. If so, it would mark the first ever opposition victory since Kenya's independence in 1963.

78-year-old President Daniel Arap Moi is stepping down, as required by the constitution, after 24 years in power.

His chosen successor, Uhuru Kenyatta, a political novice whose main selling point is that he is the son of Kenya's first president, Jomo Kenyatta, is trailing far behind in the polls.