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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tears as Kibaki leaves State House: our resident clairvoyant gazes into her crystall ball

Tears flowed freely among State House employees yesterday as they watched Mr Mwai Kibaki board an Air Force helicopter at 3.40 pm and fly away to his Nyeri home to begin his retirement.

The employees, who were joined by the Head of the Civil Service, Francis Muthaura, and former Nominated MP, Cecily Mbarire, watched in disbelief as Mr Kibaki, a resident at State House for 5 years, made his exit.

The former President walked from his office, which he had handed over to President Raila Odinga, to the helicopter parked on the lawns of State House 100 meters away accompanied by his two sons, Jimmy and David. A second helicopter was used by senior State House officials who included the Comptroller, Mr Hyslop Ipu, and Isaih Kabira, the head of the Presidential Press Service.

Earlier, at 3.10 pm, Mr Kibaki arrived back from the handing over ceremony at Uhuru Park driven in a convoy of six cars and five out-riders. He then went straight into his old office where he waited for his successor to arrive and show him around.

His presidential standard on one of the two flag poles atop State House had been removed and replaced with Mr Odinga's, which bore an Orange with a white background.

President Odinga's convoy entered the gates of State House at 3.25 pm and an army officer played a military tune on a bugle to signify the change of guard. The convoy of six cars led by five out-riders moved at a snail's pace from the gates to the main building as scores of State House workers, ODM supporters and the Press lined the avenue to watch the historic event.

Seated back left in the Mercedes Benz 600 with the First Lady Ida, a jovial Mr Odinga waved the orange salute to his supporters, who responded in kind.

President Odinga held a closed door meeting with his predecessor, whom he worked under as Minister for 2 years, before biding Mr Kibaki farewell.

The programme had indicated that the two would eat lunch together, but Mr Kibaki left immediately after the brief meeting.

Mr Kibaki accompanied by his eldest and youngest son, David and Jimmy, briskly walked the 100 metres and boarded one of the waiting choppers.

Sources at State House confirmed that Mr Kibaki arrived at his office at 9 am yesterday and took a 2 hour nap as has been his practice for the past 5 years at the helm.

The former President then held closed door meetings with several people including former Vice-President Moody Awori, and Kanu chairman and a loser in Gatundu, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta.

The meetings went on until 1.30 pm when he departed for Uhuru Park after eating lunch with Mr Awori and former Cabinet ministers and ex-MPs Mr Chirau Mwakwere, Mr Musikari Kombo and Mr Kivutha Kibwana, former Kamukunji MP Mr Norman Nyagah and former assistant minister and immediate former subukia MP Mr Koigi Wamwere.

At Uhuru Park, Mr Kibaki paid glowing tribute to his successor, describing him as a man of integrity and courage.

He recalled the years the two served together, and asserted that President Raila had served him with loyalty and dedication.

On arrival at his Nyeri home at 4.25 pm, Mr Kibaki criticised the incoming government for blaming his regime for the country's corruption problems "when they knew very well that those were inherited from former president Moi's government."

"This affected the running of my government," he said. "I thank my civil servants and armed forces for having served me diligently."

On the just concluded General Election, he accused the media of failing to do justice to Kenyans. From the beginning of campaigns, he said, the entire Press went against PNU instead of letting the people to decide on their own.

On arrival at Nyeri, he was received by family members, others were farm workers and the second family.

He paused for five minutes to receive two salutes from three military jets which flew past his compound. He took the salute flanked by six Kenya Air Force service men led by Major Mrashue.

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