Victory for democracy: some say it is a "political earthquake"; others say "it's old wine in new bottles". But this may be the new dawn that Kenyans had always yearned for.

Author:Mbakwe, Tom
Position:Around Africa: Kenya

When Kenyans went to the polls on 27 December, the results were more or less foreclosed: the massive edifice built by KANU over 40 years since independence on 12 December 1963 was about to be replaced. But by what?

For years, headlines such as "Apres Moi, le deluge", and "Apres Moi, C'est Moi" (a pun on President Arap Moi's hold on the country, and the suspicion that be would never go, or that his departure would herald chaos), had fostered the belief that trouble laid in wait for Kenya if the Kanu edifice was touched.

But nothing of the sort happened, all credit to the people of Kenya, their politicians and democracy. As the Nairoibi-based newsletter, Kenya Confidential, reported: "Apres Moi there was no deluge, just celebratory whooping as Kenyans marked the demise of the seemingly eternal Kenyan National Union (KANU), its chief patron [Arap Moi] and its business associates, A grateful President Mwai Kibaki (tired and wheelchair-bound after a car accident during the campaign) told Kenyans to take a holiday on the first and second of January."

"Meanwhile," the newsletter added ominously, "Kibaki selected his ministerial team for announcement on 3 January. Celebrants pause: first reality intrudes. According to differing political sources, Kibaki's cabinet has too many Kanu has-beens or too many inexperienced oppositionists or it was too conscious of ethnic balance or too keen to reward political favours,"

President Emillio Mwai Kibaki, 71, one of the eternal faces of Kenyan politics, has already indicated that he would not run again after his five-year term. Born in 1931, he was elected MP in 1963 and has held his seat ever since -- an indication of the confidence he commands among the people.

He served under the country's first president, Jomo Kenyatta, as finance minister in the 1970s, and under Arap Moi as vice president for much of the 1980s. He captured the presidency on the third attempt, having been beaten by Moi in 1992 and 1997. This time, backed by the hastily put-together National Rainbow Coalition (NARO), he mined the tables on Moi, defeating his hand-picked successor, Uhuru Kenyatta by a whopping 62.2% to 31.3%.

The people had spoken -- and loudly so! Even before all the votes had been counted, Uhuru Kenyatta had accepted defeat, and he and his mentor bowed out gracefully. So far, so good.

On 13 January, Moi (who was prevented by the constitution from standing again) appeared in public for the first time after Kanu's landslide...

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