January 23, 2009 / 11:26 AM / 10 years ago

CORRECTED - FACTBOX-Kenya's new finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta

(Corrects age to 47 in third point)

Jan 23 (Reuters) - Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki named a close ally, Trade Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, on Friday as finance minister of east Africa’s biggest economy.

Following are facts about him:

* Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is the son of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta and was named “Uhuru” for the Swahili word meaning freedom. He was born in October, 1961, two years before Kenya gained independence from Britain.

* A member of the same ethnic group as Kibaki, the Kikuyu, Kenyatta belongs to one of Kenya’s wealthiest families. They have extensive land and business holdings.

* Kenyatta, now aged 47, had been serving as Kibaki’s deputy prime minister and minister for trade before his appointment to the finance portfolio. He retains his position as deputy prime minister in Kenya’s coalition government.

* Kenyatta was plucked from political obscurity in 2002 by former President Daniel arap Moi as his choice of successor.

* Moi installed Kenyatta as chairman of the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party which had ruled Kenya for 40 years, after he stepped down following 24 years as president.

* Kenyatta sought to exploit a yearning for change among a younger generation in the 2002 polls, but many voters regarded him as a puppet picked by Moi to protect him in retirement and to win the Kikuyu vote.

* He lost the 2002 election to President Mwai Kibaki’s National Rainbow Alliance (NARC) coalition.

* Kenyatta and KANU then backed Kibaki in the 2007 disputed election that led to bloodshed killing at least 1,300 people.

* Kenyatta has denied allegations by local media and some politicians that he is linked to the murderous, mafia-style Mungiki gang that operates in Nairobi and Central province, the heartland of the Kikuyus.

* Kenyatta is married to Margaret Wanjiru Gakuo and has three children.

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