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Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta
Kenyatta attending a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit dinner at the White House
|President of Kenya|
Assumed office |
9 April 2013
|Preceded by||Mwai Kibaki|
|Deputy Prime Minister of Kenya|
13 April 2008 – 9 April 2013
Serving with Musalia Mudavadi
|Prime Minister||Raila Odinga|
|Minister of Finance|
23 January 2009 – 26 January 2012
|Prime Minister||Raila Odinga|
|Preceded by||John Michuki|
|Succeeded by||Robinson Njeru Githae|
|Leader of the Opposition|
January 2003 – 9 April 2013
|Preceded by||Mwai Kibaki|
|Succeeded by||Raila Odinga|
|Member of Parliament|
for Gatundu South
January 2003 – January 2013
|Preceded by||Moses Mwihia|
|Succeeded by||Jossy Ngugi|
26 October 1961|
Nairobi, Kenya Colony
Kenya African National Union (Before 2012)|
National Alliance (2012–2016)
|Jubilee Alliance (2013–present)|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Gakuo (m. 1991)|
|Relatives||Jomo Kenyatta (father)|
|Alma mater||Amherst College|
Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (born 26 October 1961) is a Kenyan politician and the fourth president of the Republic of Kenya. He served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gatundu South from 2002 to 2013. Currently the party leader and a member of the Jubilee Party of Kenya, he was previously involved with The National Alliance and before that the Kenya African National Union.
He is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president, and his fourth wife Mama Ngina Kenyatta. Uhuru was re-elected for a second term in the August 2017 general election, winning 54% of the popular vote. The win was formally declared on national television by the Chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Wafula Chebukati. However, Uhuru's election was successfully challenged in the Supreme Court of Kenya by his main competitor, Raila Odinga. On September 1, 2017, the court declared the election invalid and ordered a new presidential election to take place within 60 days from the day of the ruling. A new presidential election was held on October 26, which he won, with 39% participation due to voter fatigue, voter apathy and being boycotted by the opposition.
Uhuru is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's founding father and first president of the republic of Kenya (in office 1964–1978), with his fourth wife, Mama Ngina Kenyatta. His family hails from the Kikuyu, a Bantu ethnic group. His given name "Uhuru" is from the Swahili term for "freedom", and was given to him in anticipation of Kenya's upcoming independence. Uhuru attended St Mary's School in Nairobi. Between 1979 and 1980, he also briefly worked as a teller at the Kenya Commercial Bank.
After St. Mary's school, Uhuru went on to study economics, political science and government at Amherst College in the United States. Upon his graduation, Uhuru returned to Kenya, and started a company Wilham Kenya Limited, through which he sourced and exported agricultural produce.
Uhuru was nominated to Parliament in 2001, he became Minister for Local Government under President Daniel Arap Moi and, despite his political inexperience, was favoured by Moi as his successor. Kenyatta ran as KANU's candidate in the December 2002 presidential election, but lost to the opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki by a big margin. He subsequently became Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. He backed Kibaki for re-election in the December 2007 presidential election and was named Minister of Local Government by Kibaki in January 2008, before becoming Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade in April 2008 as part of a coalition government.
Subsequently, Kenyatta was Minister of Finance from 2009 to 2012, while remaining Deputy Prime Minister. Accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of committing crimes against humanity in relation to the violent aftermath of the 2007 election, he resigned as Minister of Finance on 26 January 2012. He was elected as President of Kenya in the March 2013 presidential election, defeating Raila Odinga with a slim majority in a single round of voting.
Uhuru Kenyatta initial entry into politics came through his election as the chairman of his hometown branch of the then ruling party, KANU, in 1997. This came with the tacit approval of President Daniel toroitich Arap samoei. At the time, many saw the election as a calculated move to prepare Uhuru for bigger things to come.
In 1999 Moi appointed Uhuru to chair the Kenya Tourism Board, a government parastatal. He was nominated to parliament in 2001, and subsequently appointed to the cabinet as Minister for Local Government. Following this, he was elected as one of the four national vice-chairmen of KANU in the same year.
In the nomination process in 2002 in what was widely thought as undemocratic and underhand, Moi influenced Uhuru Kenyatta's nomination as KANU's preferred presidential candidate, sparking an outcry from other interested contenders and a massive exit from the party. This move by Moi was seen as a ploy to install Uhuru as a puppet so that even in retirement, Moi would still rule the country through Uhuru and presumably insulate himself against charges of abuse of office that plagued his presidency.
Uhuru led his party KANU in the referendum campaigns against the draft constitution in 2005, having teamed up with the Liberal Democratic Party, a rebel faction in the Kibaki government, to form the Orange Democratic Movement. The result of this was a vote against the adoption of the draft constitution by a noticeable margin, which was a great political embarrassment to Emilio Mwai Kibaki.
In November 2006, Kenyatta was displaced as KANU leader by Biwott. On 28 December 2006, the High Court of Kenya reinstated Uhuru Kenyatta as KANU chairman. However, further court proceedings followed. On 28 June 2007, the High Court confirmed Kenyatta as party leader, ruling that there was insufficient evidence for Biwott's argument that Kenyatta had joined another party.
In the run up to the 2007 general election, he led KANU to join a coalition (called Party of National Unity "PNU") with President Mwai Kibaki who was running for a second term against Raila Odinga. PNU won the controversial 2007 elections but the dispute over the poll resulted in the 2007-08 Kenyan crisis. Under an agreement between the two parties to end the chaos, Kibaki remained as president in a power sharing agreement with Raila as Prime Minister, while Uhuru Kenyatta was Kibaki's choice as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister For Finance in his share of Cabinet slots.
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo charged Uhuru, who was a PNU leader, as an indirect co-perpetrator in the violence that followed the 2007-08 Kenyan crisis, and the charges were confirmed on 23 January 2012. The Prosecutor also charged William Ruto who had been a supporter of ODM, rivals of the PNU in the 2007 election. Uhuru resigned as Minister of Finance upon the confirmation of the charges but maintained his innocence. The charges were dropped on 13 March 2015 for lack of evidence.
On 13 September 2007,Uhuru Kenyatta withdrew from the December 2007 presidential election in favour of Kibaki for re-election. He said that he did not want to run unless he could be sure of winning.
Following the election, amidst the controversy that resulted when Kibaki was declared the victor despite claims of fraud from challenger Raila Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement, Kibaki appointed Kenyatta as Minister for Local Government on 8 January 2008. After Kibaki and Odinga reached a power-sharing agreement, Kenyatta was named Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade on 13 April 2008, as part of the Grand Coalition Cabinet. He was the Deputy Prime Minister representing the PNU, while another Deputy Prime Minister, Musalia Mudavadi, represented the ODM.
Kenyatta and the rest of the Cabinet were sworn in on 17 April. Uhuru Kenyatta was later moved from Local Government and appointed Minister for Finance on 23 January 2009. During his tenure, he spearheaded a number of reform measures that changed how treasury and government by extension transact business, such as the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and a fund for the inclusion of the informal sector in the mainstream econom
In 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta was elected as the 4th and current president of Kenya under The National Alliance (TNA), which was part of the Jubilee Alliance with his running mate William Ruto's United Republican Party (URP). Uhuru and Ruto won 50.07% of votes cast, with closest rivals, Raila Odinga and running mate Kalonzo Musyoka of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy garnering 42%. Raila Amolo Odinga disputed the election results at the Supreme Court which however held (7–0) that the election of Uhuru was valid and such irregularities as existed did not make a difference to the final outcome. Uhuru Kenyatta was therefore sworn in as President on 9 April 2013.
Uhuru ran for president in the elections held on 4 March 2013 and garnered 6,173,433 votes (50.03%) out of the 12,338,667 votes cast. As this was above the 50% plus 1 vote threshold, he won the election in the first round thus evading a run-off between the top two candidates. He was, therefore, declared the fourth President of the Republic of Kenya by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
According to the IEBC, Raila Odinga garnered 5,340,546 votes (43.4%) and was thus the second in the field of eight candidates. CORD, under the leadership of presidential candidate Raila Odinga, lodged a petition with the Supreme Court of Kenya on 10 March 2013 challenging Uhuru’s election. On 30 March 2013, Dr Willy Mutunga, the Chief Justice of Kenya, read the unanimous Supreme Court ruling declaring the election of Uhuru Kenyatta and his running-mate, William Ruto, as valid. On 11 August 2017, the Chairman of the IEBC, Wafula Chebukati announced Uhuru's reelection to a second term in office during the 2017 Kenyan general election, with 54% of the popular vote. This was later contested in court and annulled. In the events that followed the annulment, Kenyatta was seen as lacking direction and being a reactionary leader. Following this annulment, a second election was required in which Uhuru Kenyatta won with 98% of the vote with a 38% voter turnout.
Though noted as one of the few ministers without any scandals, on 29 April 2009, Uhuru faced a scare after he presented a supplemental budget that was approved by parliament. The supplemental budget was to cover the budget gap that had arisen due to slow economic growth. The government required an additional Kshs 38 billion, but compromised on a figure of Kshs 22 billion and non-essential proposed expenditure was postponed as a result. After voting on the bill brought forward by Kenyatta, Gitobu Imanyara brought up discrepancy questions as to what exactly had been approved by the house. It appeared that parliament had voted on Kshs 31 billion as opposed to Kshs 22 billion that they thought they were voting on – the difference totalling Kshs 9.2 billion. The Deputy Prime Minister initially defended the budget that had been passed but later admitted that there were computer or typographical errors in the budget bill. An investigation by the CID and a parliamentary committee was ordered by the Speaker, to question him on the discrepancies. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the Joint Finance and Budgetary Committee on the issue.
On 15 December 2010 prior to him becoming president, Kenyatta was named as a suspect of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, for planning and funding violence in Naivasha and Nakuru. This was in relation to the violence that followed the bungled national elections of December 2007. In furtherance of his political support for Kibaki's PNU at the time, he was accused of organising a Kikuyu politico-religious group, the Mungiki, in the post-election violence. Overall, the post-election violence of 2007 is said to have claimed about 1300 lives. Uhuru maintained his innocence and wanted his name cleared. On 8 March 2011, while serving as minister in Kibaki's government, he was indicted after being summoned to appear before the ICC pre-trial chamber. He was to appear at The Hague on 8 April 2011 alongside five other suspects. On 29 September 2011, while seeking to exonerate himself, Uhuru Kenyatta put up a spirited fight as he was being cross-examined by ICC Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo in The Hague, denying any links with the outlawed Mungiki sect. He said Prime Minister Raila Odinga should take political responsibility for the acts of violence and killings that followed the 2007 presidential elections in Kenya. He told the three judges that "by telling his supporters election results were being rigged, fanned tensions and then failed to use his influence to quell the violence that followed the announcement of the 2007 presidential results."
Though Uhuru had previously dismissed ICC summons, he changed his decision along the way. Together with his two other co-accused suspects, Head of Civil Service, Ambassador Francis Muthaura and former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali, the trio honoured the ICC Summons that sought to determine whether their cases met the set standards for international trials. On 23 January 2012, the ICC confirmed the cases against Kenyatta and Muthaura although the charges against Muthaura were subsequently dropped. Serious concerns about the case have been raised, particularly the nature of the evidence being used against Kenyatta. There are also serious concerns about witness tampering and indeed, a number of witnesses have disappeared or died, which is the reason cited by the ICC for dropping charges against Mathaura. On a 12 October 2013 speech to the African Union in which he set a belligerent tone, Uhuru accused the ICC of being "a toy of declining imperial powers".
On 31 October 2013, the ICC postponed Kenyatta's trial for crimes against humanity by three months until 5 February 2014 after the defence had requested more time.
On 8 October 2014, Kenyatta appeared before the ICC in The Hague. He was called to appear at the ICC "status conference" when the prosecution said evidence needed to go ahead with a trial was being withheld. In a speech to the Kenyan parliament Kenyatta said that he was going to The Hague in a personal capacity — not as president of the country — so as not to compromise the sovereignty of Kenyans. Kenyatta did not speak in court, but denied the charges in comments to journalists as he left the court to catch a flight back home. "We as Kenyans, we know where we came from, we know where we are going, and nobody will tell us what to do," he said. The judges adjourned the hearings and charges were dropped on 13 March 2015.
On 20 May 2012, Uhuru Kenyatta attended the elaborately assembled and much-publicised launch of The National Alliance party in a modern high-tech dome at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. His presence at the TNA launch was a strong indication that he would contest for the party's presidential nomination ticket in his quest for the presidency in the 2013 General Elections.
The Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa and Eldoret North Constituency MP William Ruto led more than 70 MPs in attending the function. The Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, Abdi Ramadhan, Cabinet Ministers Mohamed Yusuf Haji, Jamleck Irungu Kamau, Dr. Naomi Shaaban, Samuel Poghisio, Professor Sam Ongeri and Dr. Mohammed Kuti and MPs Charles Cheruiyot Keter, Aden Bare Duale and Mohamed Maalim Mohamud also attended the event.
Speeches at the launch revolved around the need for a thriving economy, the need for the rights of people of all classes in society to be championed, the need for peaceful co-existence, the need for visionary and committed leadership, the need for transformative leadership, the need for a youthful crop of committed professionals in leadership, the need for free and fair nomination and election processes in the General Election, the need for an economically empowered youth and a call to bring an end to divisive and sectarian interests in politics to safeguard Kenya from sliding to dictatorship. Machel Waikenda was the director of communications and secretary of arts and entertainment of the National Alliance, from April 2012 to August 2013 and he led the media and communications department of the party during the 2013 elections.
On 17 September 2012, The National Alliance party had its first real test when it contested various civic and parliamentary positions in a by-election that covered 17 seats in total; 3 parliamentary and 14 civic. Overall, 133,054 votes were cast in the by-elections and TNA led the pack after it garnered 38.89% or 51,878 votes, followed by Orange Democratic Movement with 33.7% or 44,837 votes, Party of National Unity with 4.46% or 5,929 votes, Wiper Democratic Movement with 4.44% or 5,912 votes and United Democratic Forum with 4.15% or 5,520 votes.
TNA won civic and parliamentary seats in 7 different counties while its closest challengers, ODM won seats in 4 counties. The National Alliance Party remained a strong contender for the following year's general elections, having received major defections from other big political parties of Kenya. The successful election of TNA's main candidates (Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto) continued to enhance TNA's viability.
In January 2015, however, TNA merged with URP to form the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP).
Uhuru Kenyatta's party, The National Alliance (TNA) joined William Ruto's United Republican Party (URP), Najib Balala's Republican Congress Party (RCP) and Charity Ngilu's National Rainbow Coalition party to form the Jubilee Alliance coalition. Various opinion polls prior to the election placed Uhuru as one of the main contenders, and his Jubilee Alliance as among the most popular. The other formidable coalition was the Coalition For Reform and Democracy (CORD), led by Raila Odinga.
In undercover video footage, released in a BBC news report on March 19, 2018, the managing director of Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that worked to elect Donald Trump in the 2016 American presidential election, boasted that his firm had run successful presidential election campaigns in Kenya in 2013 and 2017, though he did not name Kenyatta explicitly. "We have rebranded the entire party twice, written the manifesto, done research, analysis, messaging," Turnbull said, of the campaigns that his company managed in Kenya. "I think we wrote all the speeches and we staged the whole thing—so just about every element of this candidate." A Jubilee Party vice president admitted on March 20, 2018, that the party had hired an affiliate of Cambridge Analytica for "branding" in the 2017 election.
As per the IEBC's official results, Uhuru got 6,173,433 of the 12,221,053 valid votes cast ahead of the second placed Raila Odinga who garnered 5,340,546 (43.7%). Uhuru's result was 50.51% of the vote and was above the 50% plus 1 vote threshold set out in the 2010 constitution, thus making him the president-elect.
There was some discontent with the official results, as would be expected in such a hotly contested election, especially in Raila Odinga's strongholds. The inordinate delay in releasing the results and the technical failure of some safeguards and election equipment deployed by the IEBC did not help the perception that the election had been less than free and fair.
Further, an exit poll conducted by UCSD Professor Clark Gibson and James Long, Asst. Prof. and University of Washington suggested that neither Odinga nor Kenyatta had attained the 50% plus one vote threshold. Analysts[who?] have contended that even though elections for five other levels were held in Kenya at the same time, their national turnout levels and total vote tallies were about 16% less than the presidential total; e.g. while 10.6 million voters elected candidates for member of the National Assembly, the Senate and the 47 gubernatorial seats, almost 2 million more voted in the presidential election. This has fuelled concern and speculations of vote manipulation in President Kenyatta's favour.
Two groups disputed these results and filed petitions challenging various aspects of it at the Supreme Court of Kenya to contest the result. The groups were the Coalition For Reform and Democracy, CORD, led by Raila Odinga, and the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AFRICOG). Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate were respondents in these cases and were represented by Fred Ngatia and Katwa Kigen respectively.
The Supreme court judges unanimously upheld the election of Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya’s fourth president after rejecting Raila Odinga's petition in a verdict delivered on Saturday 30 March 2013. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga in his ruling said the elections were indeed conducted in compliance with the Constitution and the law.
After the Supreme Court dismissed the petitions the swearing in ceremony was held on 9 April 2013 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, Nairobi, in accordance to Article 141 (2) (b) of the constitution which stipulates that in case the Supreme Court upholds the victory of the president-elect, the swearing in will take place on "the first Tuesday following the seventh day following the date on which the court renders a decision declaring the election to be valid".
During his inaugural speech, Uhuru promised economic transformation through Vision 2030, unity among all Kenyans, free maternal care and that he will serve all Kenyans. He also promised to improve the standards of education in Kenya. During the Madaraka day Celebrations, a national holiday celebrated to the country's independence on 1 June, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced free maternal care in all public health facilities, a move that was welcomed by many Kenyans.
On September 1, 2017, the Supreme Court of Kenya nullified the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had announced him the winner on 8 August 2017.
He was sworn in on 28 November 2017 for his second presidential term.
His major challenge has been high cost of living, rising public debt, a high public wage bill and allegations of corruption among people close to his government.
The high public wage cost has been a headache to Uhuru’s administration. At the start of his term, the President decried the high wage bill which was at 12% of GDP (as against a recommended 7%). In 2015, the President stated that the wage bill was at 50% of the total annual revenue collection of government. In an attempt to curtail it, the President announced a pay cut for himself and his Cabinet in March 2014, reducing his salary by 20%. It was hoped that the high earners in government would follow suit but this did not materialize. Another measure was the newly created constitutional Salaries and Remuneration Commission which it was hoped would regularize salaries but it has faced an up hill battle against Members of Parliament, who wish to protect their earnings and labour unions. The President thereafter ordered an audit of the government payroll so as to flush out ghost workers. The audit identified 12,000 ghost workers. In the meantime, lower cadre government workers have demanded pay rises, more so by teachers and health workers, who have gone on strikes at various times to demand the increase. The strikes in the health sector mainly affect the counties, Kenya’s other level of government, as it is managed by the devolved units.
The President's foreign relations have been dominated by the ICC question. His relations with the West were expected to be cold more so after the West warned Kenyans not to elect him as president. The United Kingdom promised to have only essential contacts with him if he were elected. However, his relationship with the West has thawed significantly and he has participated in the US — Africa summit as well as a Somalia summit in the United Kingdom. The ICC has however accused his government of frustrating their investigation efforts into his case. The ICC has however absolved the President of any involvement in the frustration.
His activities have however been more robust at the African level where he has pushed more intra-Africa trade and economic independence of African nations. In November 2014, he launched consultations to reform the United Nations Security Council to expand the voice of Africa in the Council. He has successfully rallied the AU against the ICC culminating in an Extraordinary Summit of the African Heads of State which resolved that sitting African Heads of State should not appear before the ICC. The AU further asked the Security Council to suspend his trial at the ICC; for the first time ever, the Security Council resolution was defeated by abstention with 9 members of the Council abstaining rather than voting against so as not to offend Kenyatta. The Assembly of State Parties of the ICC would two days later amend the ICC statute to allow for one to appear by video link, a proposal President Kenyatta had made when he was Deputy Prime Minister.
President Kenyatta has led and negotiated peace agreements in the South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the East African level, he has developed a close relationship with the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda President Paul Kagame, creating the Coalition of the Willing, a caucus within the EAC that has signed on to more joint development and economic agreements than the other EAC partners, including a joint tourist visa.
He attended the funeral of Nelson Mandela and was received warmly by the crowds. He also attended the funeral of President Michael Sata of Zambia in November 2014. However, it had been perceived that his administration's relations with Botswana were strained due to Botswana's support of the ICC process. He has since visited Botswana to remove this perception and Botswana voted in favour of the AU's ICC Resolution.
As expected, he has remained close to China which is funding most of his infrastructure projects.
In November 2015, it was noted that he was the most travelled Kenyan president compared to his predecessors. One of the leading national newspapers noted that Uhuru Kenyatta had been out of the country 43 times as of November 2015 in a period of about three years since he took office in 2013, as compared to 33 times over a span of 10 years by his predecessor Mwai Kibaki. The president's strategic communications unit came out in defence of these trips stating that these trips had yielded more than what it cost the taxpayers to finance them.
His government's first year in office received low ratings from the general public. This is after a poll by Synovate indicated that more than half of the population was unhappy with how the government had conducted its affairs. The same polls also ranked the presidency as the second most trusted institution after the media. After his appearance at The Hague for his ICC case in October 2014, his poll ratings improved to 71%, according to a poll by Synovate. A poll by Gallup in August 2014 put his approval ratings at 78%, giving him the third best job approval ratings among African Presidents after Ian Khama of Botswana and Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of Mali.
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