Saturday, April 23, 2022

President Mwai Kibaki dead age 90

 




The late Wilfred Maciel (brother Bwana Karani Mervyn) with the then Finance Minister Mwai Kibaki


By John Ikani (Heritage Times)

 

Former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, who served as the country’s third President has died at the age of 90.

His death was announced Friday by his successor, incumbent Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who described him as inspirational.

“It is a sad day for us as a country. We have lost a great leader,” Kenyatta said in an address on state television.

“President Kibaki will forever be remembered as a gentleman in Kenya’s politics. A brilliant debater whose eloquence, wit and charm won the day time and time again.”

He ordered a period of national mourning until sunset on the day Kibaki is to be buried, with all flags to be flown at half-mast.

Kibaki served as President from 2002 to 2013, winning elections against Kenyatta and ending four decades of one-party rule.

As a leader, Kibaki, one of the country’s richest men, ushered in economic reforms and a new constitution but failed to deliver on promises to combat corruption. His tenure was marred by the disputed 2007 polls that led to deadly violence.

His disputed re-election in 2007 against Raila Odinga, who accused him of rigging the outcome, led to street clashes and the deaths of more than 1,100 people.

But Kibaki was also hailed in 2010 for shaping a new constitution for Kenya and improving social services.

Kenyatta also praised the late President for transforming the country.

“The late former president’s administration conceptualized and spearheaded a transformation in crucial sectors such as education through the globally lauded free primary education program, infrastructure developments in transport and energy and the increasing the availability and the access to health care for his fellow Kenyans,” Kenyatta said.

At the end of two terms, Kibaki handed power to Kenyatta, who was elected in 2013 and retired from politics.

Cyprian Fernandes: I knew Mwai Kibaki as a Parliamentary Secretary in the first Kenya Cabinet and a little later as the country’s Finance Minister. He was one of my favourite mentors and we spent a lot of time debating various aspects of the annual budgets he had fashioned for the country. In a way, he schooled me in his economic methodology. I was fortunate enough to meet so many very special Kenyans from 1960 but Mwai Kibaki will always remain a very special memory. Rest in Peace, Lala salama.

BBC: Many Kenyans are expressing a real sense of loss and regard Mr Kibaki as the best president Kenya has had since independence.

He was a sharp economist who set the country on a path of economic growth. He held a number of senior positions in treasury and government in his political career that spanned decades.

Politically, however, he was regarded as a non-confrontational fence-sitter and opportunist. He opposed the introduction of multiparty democracy but jumped ship after the constitution was amended. He then embraced it, formed his own political party and, 10 years later, went on to win the election as head of an opposition coalition.

Both traits would be seen during his tenure as president. Kenya recorded one of its highest rates of GDP growth during his first term, before the violence of the 2007 election severely dented his legacy.

As well as his economic record, one of his biggest achievements was introducing free primary education to Kenya.

Under his watch, Kenya also gained a new constitution, after it was overwhelmingly approved in a national referendum in 2010. It was billed by some at the time as the most important political event in Kenya's history since it gained independence from Britain in 1963.

It introduced a more decentralised political system and limited presidential powers.

His biggest failure was the fight against corruption. He'd promised to fight it, but his government was rocked by major corruption scandals.

But the 2007-2008 election violence after a disputed vote was the worst in the country's history and the lowest point of his presidency. Not only were more than 1,200 lives lost, but more than half a million people were forced from their homes.

During the violence there were hundreds of rapes and more than 100,000 properties were destroyed, according to the International Criminal Court (ICC). It charged leading politicians with orchestrating the violence but neither Mr Kibaki nor opposition leader Raila Odinga was among them.

The electoral commission, under tight police security, declared Mr Kibaki the winner of the vote, although Mr Odinga alleged widespread fraud. President Kibaki was sworn in hurriedly for the second term as the country descended into violence.

An investigation led by former South African judge Johann Krieglar determined that both sides had participated in electoral malpractices in different regions which made it impossible to determine who had won that election.

The violence was eventually ended in a power-sharing deal brokered by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, which saw Mr Odinga become prime minister.

 

 

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