Succession Battle Begins Slow Burn: President Mwai Kibaki's Appointment of Moody Awori as His Number Two Has Helped Shore Up the Battered Ruling Coalition but Problems Are Mounting for the New Government
Redfern, Paul, African Business
Following the untimely death of the former Vice-President, Kijana Wamalwa at a London hospital, and after several weeks of deliberation by Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki, Moody Awori was appointed as Kenya's new Vice-President in late September. Awori was a long-standing Minister under former President Daniel arap Moi until be joined the mass exodus from KANU late last year.
The honeymoon period for the first ever non KANU government in Kenya is definitely over, and the appointment of Awori has been widely seen as an attempt to strengthen the shaky coalition that makes up Kenya's ruling NARC government, beset as it is by its internal differences especially over changes to the constitution.
Kibaki's choice of Awori was regarded as astute in helping to keep the balance amongst competing factions in the key leader ship positions. A Luhya, like the late Vice-President Wamalwa, his appointment will be seen as critical in keeping a balance in the government and maintaining support for the President in the west of the country.
Nevertheless his appointment has not been without criticism. For Awori, although a popular figure, was a big supporter of President Moi until late last year. A wealthy businessman, he is also 76 years old, which means that both of Kenya's most senior politicians are in their 70s.
As such, like Kibaki himself, Awori may not been seen as a credible Presidential candidate at the time of the next Presidential elections. If both Kibaki and Awori are not seen as strong leaders, this will only increase the already feverish race for succession that is developing within the ruling coalition.
A key factor in this succession could be the constitutional changes that are agreed, most particularly with regard to the role of a Prime Minister and what powers such a position should have. This position appears to have been 'reserved' for the powerful Luo politician Raila Odinga, (in a deal between the differing elements that made up NARC be fore the election). Odinga, of course, would not want the post should it prove to be just a titular position, bar rivals remain concerned at the power base he would establish if it became a Premiership with real clout.
The battle over who might eventually succeed him is not the only problem Kibaki has been facing.
Few governments, the world over, have been rocked by as many tragedies as the new Kenyan government since it came to office. As well as Wamalwa, two other senior government officials and two NARC MPs have died since January of this year, whilst others suffered serious injuries in the plane crash in which Labour Minister Ahmed Khalif was killed. …