- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 31, 2002

NAIROBI, Kenya Tens of thousands of Kenyans roared their approval as Mwai Kibaki was sworn in as their president yesterday, exulting in his historic victory the opportunity to rebuild this once-prosperous African nation.
Many people climbed up trees and lampposts to witness the inauguration, and Mr. Kibaki, 71, a former vice president and finance minister, promised not to disappoint them.
The crowd jeered and heckled outgoing President Daniel arap Moi who ruled the country for 24 years with an autocratic hold on power as he arrived at Nairobi's downtown Uhuru Park for the inauguration and sat next to his successor.
Mr. Moi listened, stone-faced, as Mr. Kibaki highlighted the failings of his government.
"I am inheriting a country which has been badly ravaged by years of misrule and ineptitude," Mr. Kibaki told the crowd. "You have asked me to lead this nation out of the present wilderness and malaise on to the promised land, and I shall do so."
When Mr. Kibaki told the crowd that government should not be a burden on the people, one man shouted, "Tell him," and pointed at Mr. Moi.
Mr. Kibaki pledged to create jobs for millions of unemployed people, provide free primary education and lead a government that won't be run on the "whims of individuals."
Mr. Kibaki's National Rainbow Coalition won a landslide victory in elections on Friday, ending 39 years of rule by the Kenya Africa National Union (KANU).
In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip T. Reeker welcomed the election as having been free and fair. He praised Mr. Moi and Mr. Kibaki's opponents for an orderly change in Nairobi.
Mr. Moi, 78, was forced to step down by a 1991 constitutional amendment limiting presidents to two five-year terms. In complying, he paved the way for a peaceful transfer of power, rare on the African continent.
On stage, he handed over the ceremonial sword of command to Mr. Kibaki who was in a wheelchair, with a cast on his leg from a car accident this month and shook his hand, congratulating him on his victory. "The people of Kenya have spoken," Mr. Moi said.
Many Kenyans blame Mr. Moi, whose blanket use of patronage resulted in crippling mismanagement, for the culture of corruption that has plunged Kenya into its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1963 and frightened away much-needed foreign investors.
Police estimate that more than 100,000 people attended the ceremony. Many were perched on trees, lampposts and adjacent buildings to witness the event.
"It's a great day in the history of Kenya because it's like a second independence for Kenya. For the first time, our wishes as an electorate have gone through successfully," said Ferdinand Makokha. "It's been a dream for every Kenyan."
The 26-year-old is an office messenger who earns $39 a month. He doesn't earn enough to even think about getting married, but Mr. Kibaki's promises have given him fresh hope.
"We are looking for more jobs. Things should get better now," he said.
Although the Electoral Commission had not released final results by yesterday, provisional results gave Mr. Kibaki 63 percent of the vote to 30 percent for his principal rival, Uhuru Kenyatta, the ruling-party candidate. Mr. Kenyatta conceded defeat on Sunday.
With at least 122 seats, Mr. Kibaki's coalition was guaranteed an absolute majority in the 210-seat elected parliament.

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