Nairobi, Kenya | AFP | The son of Kenya’s founding president and a man who epitomises the country’s elite, Uhuru Kenyatta hopes to win a second and final five-year term in elections on August 8.
The 55-year-old US-educated multi-millionaire, whose family owns an array of businesses, properties and tracts of land, followed in his father’s footsteps when he defeated his rival Raila Odinga in 2013.
Kenyatta won that poll despite being indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) along with his running mate, William Ruto, for alleged roles in orchestrating violence that left over 1,100 dead after the previous election in 2007.
Foreign powers, including Britain and the US, warned at the time that Kenya, under an ICC-indicted president, would be a pariah, but the threats proved empty.
In 2014 the ICC dropped charges against Kenyatta — and Ruto later — citing the disappearance of witnesses and lack of evidence.
Since then Kenya has welcomed President Barack Obama, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Pope Francis and hosted a string of international gatherings and conferences.
– Privilege and wealth –
Kenyatta’s first term has been defined by big spending on eye-catching infrastructure and impressive economic growth in a tough climate.
But this has gone hand-in-hand with spiralling debt and widening inequality.
Terrorism has also been a consistent threat during his presidency with Kenyatta being forced to address the nation in doleful terms on numerous occasions, notably after the 2013 Westgate mall attack and the 2015 Garissa university attack.
The former finance minister and deputy prime minister was born in 1961, shortly after his father Jomo Kenyatta was released from nearly a decade in British jails and before becoming Kenya’s first president in 1964. His first name means “freedom” in Kiswahili.
Educated at a private school in Nairobi and at Amherst College in the US, Kenyatta is regarded as a leader of the Kikuyu people, the country’s single largest ethnic group.
He is married with three children and regularly attends Catholic church.