Who is Uhuru Kenyatta?
Uhuru Kenyatta is the sitting president and serves as the fourth President of the Republic of Kenya. He came into office in 2013 after serving as Member of Parliament between 2002 and 2013. Kenyatta was re-elected for the final term on August 8, 2017, with 54% popular votes. The final result was declared on national television by Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. However, his election was invalidated by the Supreme Court and another presidential election is yet to be conducted on October 17, 2017.
Uhuru was born in 1961 to Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta and Mama Ngina Kenyatta. He was named “Uhuru”, a Swahili word that means freedom. He studied at St Mary’s School which was located in Nairobi before proceeding to Amherst College in the United States of America where he pursued economics and political science. After his graduation, he founded Wilham Kenya Limited company that sold agricultural goods oversea.
Uhuru stepped into the political arena in 1997 through his nomination by the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party, as the branch chairman to his hometown. In the year 2001, Uhuru was picked as Member of Parliament and subsequently appointed to the Ministry of Local Government by President Moi. The appointment was seen as preparation for future leadership and Moi’s successor in spite of his political inexperience. In 2002 during KANU nomination, despite other members’ objection, Moi endorsed Uhuru as the presidential candidate, finally competing against Mwai Kibaki in 2002 presidential election which he lost by a wide margin. He consequently took over the leadership of Opposition in Parliament.
In 2007 under the leadership of Uhuru, KANU formed a coalition with the Party of National Unity (PNU), Kibaki’s party. Kibaki was vying for second and last term against Raila. PNU emerged as the winner of the controversial elections; however, the protracted dispute led to post-election violence that resulted in death and displacement of people. To end the chaos, the two presidential candidates reached an agreement to share power with Kibaki remaining the president and Raila as the Prime Minister, each with a deputy Prime Minister.
President Kibaki appointed Uhuru Kenyatta as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade on April 13, 2008, and later the Minister of Finance. However, he stepped down as the Minister of Finance after being accused of orchestrating crime against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Despite having a case in ICC, Uhuru vied on the March 4, 2013 election. He received 6,173,433 votes which were 50.03% and above the 50% plus one threshold beating his competitor Raila Omolo Odinga.
Uhuru has rolled out some of the pledges he made during campaigns such as free maternal care and the construction of new railway line. However, his government has faced a lot of challenges such as high public debt, corruption, and a higher wage bill. He has engaged in various foreign issues, for example, Uhuru led African Union (AU) members to collectively criticized International Criminal Court (ICC) over what he termed as selective target of African leaders. This criticism culminated in an Africa Summit attended by heads of states in which they anonymously agreed that no sitting Africa head of state should appear before the ICC. Uhuru has also contributed immensely to resolve South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo conflicts.