- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 29, 2002

NAIROBI, Kenya Opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki seemed headed for a landslide victory in presidential elections in Kenya yesterday, apparently breaking the ruling party's 39-year grip on power in this East African nation.
Mr. Kibaki, a 71-year-old economist who ran for president twice in the 1990s, had 65 percent of the vote, an independent monitoring group said, based on an unofficial count of nearly a third of the ballots.
He easily led outgoing President Daniel arap Moi's hand-picked candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta, who had 28 percent. Mr. Kenyatta, 42, is a son of Kenya's first president, Jomo Kenyatta but has no experience in politics.
"The Kenyan people have now spoken, and it is with great joy and humility that we accept their trust," said Raila Odinga, a leader of Mr. Kibaki's National Rainbow Coalition, which also made large gains in concurrent parliamentary elections.
If Mr. Kibaki wins, it would be Kenya's first transfer of power from one party to another since Mr. Moi's Kenyan African National Union (KANU) took over after the country gained independence from Britain in 1963.
Mr. Kibaki has promised free primary education to the struggling nation of 30 million people, half of whom live on less than a $1 a day. He has also pledged to rid the country of the widespread corruption that has kept foreign investors at bay and plunged Kenya into its worst economic crisis since independence.
In Kenya's second-largest city, the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, jubilant Kibaki supporters danced and chanted in the streets.
"I am feeling excited because it is the will of the people, and people have looked for a change. I hope to experience a change in my lifestyle and for fellow Kenyans as well," Joseph Makero said.
Mr. Moi has promised to hand over power to whoever is declared the winner. "As long as Kenyans are united I am satisfied," he said after receiving an official farewell from the armed forces yesterday.
Mr. Moi, 78, was constitutionally obliged to step down at the end of his current five-year term. One of Africa's last "big men," he has presided over Kenya for the past 24 years.
Out of 210 parliamentary constituencies, Rainbow Coalition candidates captured 78 of the 108 that have returned results so far, and Mr. Moi's party has won 21, according to the Institute for Education in Democracy, an independent monitoring body funded by international donors.
Mr. Kibaki was a founding member of KANU in the 1960s and was the country's longest-standing finance minister, from 1969 to 1982 a period of relative prosperity.
He was also vice president from 1978 until Mr. Moi fired him in 1988. Mr. Kibaki founded his own political group in 1991, when the constitution was amended to introduce a return to a multiparty system.
Mr. Kibaki's coalition united more than 10 opposition parties, which had been hopelessly divided along tribal lines, and includes a number of former senior KANU members who defected in the months leading up to Friday's vote.
The U.S. State Department said both the Kenyan government and opposition deserved credit for the conduct of the election.
"We have great hope that this demonstration of Kenyan democracy will lead toward economic reform and greater prosperity for the Kenyan people," it said in a statement.

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