Kenyatta, Uhuru Muigai

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Kenyatta, Uhuru Muigai

Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, 1961–, Kenyan politicial leader, son of Jomo Kenyatta. A Kikuyu, he entered politics in the 1990s, joining the Kenya African National Union (KANU) and ran unsuccessfully for parliament in 1997. Under President Daniel arap Moi, he was appointed (2001) to parliament and shortly thereafter named minister for local government. In 2002 he was handpicked by Moi as KANU's presidential candidate but lost to Mwai Kibaki. Kenyatta succeeded Moi as KANU's leader in 2005, and supported Kibaki against Raila Odinga in 2007. Kibaki's narrow and disputed victory aggravated tribal rivalries, leading to violence in which more than 1,000 were killed and some 600,000 lost their homes. The International Criminal Court later accused (2010) Kenyatta (and others) of crimes against humanity for allegedly financing death squads, but the charges were later (2015) withdrawn due to insufficient evidence. In the subsequent coalition government, Kenyatta served as deputy prime minister (2007) and minister of local government (2008) and finance (2009). In 2012 Kenyatta left KANU and founded the National Alliance, and he narrowly won the 2013 presidential election, defeating Odinga. He beat Odinga by a wider margin in 2017, but irregularities led the supreme court to annul the result and call for a new election. Kenyatta won the rerun, which Odinga boycotted; in 2018 the two agreed to a national unity program.

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