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Moi, Daniel 1924–

Daniel Moi 1924

President of Kenya

Argued for One-Party Rule

Resisted Pressure From U.S.

Introduced Voting Reforms

Survived Coup Attempt

Enacted Violent Anti-Poaching Policy

Final Term Marked by Economic Crisis

Sources

In 2002 Daniel Mois 24-year presidency in Kenya drew to a close. Throughout his time in office, he faced serious problems in political, economic, and social areas. Politically a one-party state since a 1982 constitutional amendment legitimized the Kenya African National Union (KANU) as the countrys single party, Kenya then faced increasing pressure from at home and abroad to move toward a multiparty system. The sweeping democratic reforms that took place in Eastern Europe and elsewhere were not unnoticed in Africa.

Moi was a strong advocate of the single-party system as practiced in Kenya. He was responsible for the 1982 constitutional amendment that outlawed opposition parties, and received support on this issue from Nelson Mandela. During his July of 1990 visit to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, Mandela defended Kenyas single-party system by asking the rhetorical question, What right have the whites anywhere to teach us about democracy, when they executed those who asked for democracy during the time of colonial rule?

Argued for One-Party Rule

There are at least three strong arguments that Moi put forth in defense of his one-party rule. Historically, Kenya showed an unprecedented political stability for an African nation, and the country was blessed with a high level of economic, intellectual, and political development. A proliferation of political parties, Moi argued, would only encourage tribalism over nationalism. Kenya is an ethnically diverse nation of more than 40 tribes, and Kenyan politics have been intertwined with tribal interests even before independence was achieved in December of 1963. Throughout Africa, tribalism was a major deterrent to economic and political development. Wars in Africa nearly always take place between tribes rather than nations.

As a term, tribes is used to refer to specific ethnic groups. To explore the issue for a moment, tribalism in Kenya amounts to a fear of the Kikuyu, the countrys largest tribe. Historically, the Kikuyu were prominent in Kenyan politics; it was the tribe of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenyas first president and the man who is considered the father of independent Kenya. While Kenyatta proclaimed a doctrine of nationalism, many of his policies favored his own tribe. When Kenyatta died in 1978, the law required an election within 90 days. The Kikuyu were split between two powerful rivals from

At a Glance

Born in 1924 to a farming family of the Kalenjin tribe in the Baringo district of the Rift Valley Province of western Kenya; took the name Daniel when baptized by Christian missionaries; married; children: several. Education: Attended missionary and government schools and received teacher training at the Kapsabet Teacher Training College, becoming a teacher at the Government African School in 1945.

Career: Began career as teacher, quickly advanced to head teacher, and following a series of promotions, became the headmaster of the Government African School, 1954-57; entered politics as a black representative from the Rift Valley, 1955; one of the first eight blacks elected to the Legislative Council, 1957; reelected, 1958; went to London as one of the African delegates who helped draft a new Kenyan constitution, 1960; elected assistant treasurer of the newly-ormed KANU (political party), 1961; established, with the leaders of other minority tribes, political party KADU, served as chairman for about a year; served in various ministerial capacities, including Minister of Education, 1961-62, Minister of Local Government 1962-64, and Minister for Home Affairs, 1964-67; became Jomo Kenyattas vice-president, 1967, and succeeded as president upon Kenyattas death in 1978, re-elected in 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998.

their own tribe, Attorney General Charles Njonjo and Mwai Kibaki. With the support of Njonjo, the Kikuyu backed Moi, Kenyattas vice-president and a member of a smaller tribe, the Kalenjin.

Moi ran unopposed and selected Kibaki for his vice-president, letting the Kikuyu think they would soon return to power. However, another powerful tribe, the Luo, gave Moi their backing, not wanting the Kikuyu to return to power. Moi consolidated his power when, in 1982, he persuaded parliament to pass a constitutional amendment that made KANU the countrys only legal party.

Fear of Kikuyu dominance in the nations politics stems from the colonial period, when the Kikuyu both benefited and suffered from the British presence. The British settled where the Kikuyu lived, in Nairobi and the surrounding highlands, where they established tea estates on some of the most fertile acreage in Kenya. From the British, the Kikuyu were exposed to trade and commerce and other modern ways; they also received some educational benefits. Tribes further from Nairobi enjoyed few, if any, benefits from colonial rule, and they resented the Kikuyu.

The British also exposed the Kikuyu to concepts of freedom and independence, and the Kikuyu-led Mau Mau rebellion of the early 1950s was an early attempt to achieve independence. To put down the uprising, the British employed other tribes, thus increasing the animosity between tribes. The Luo, a tribe originally from western Kenya, had their first contact with the Kikuyu in Nairobi, where they came to compete for jobs. In anticipation of independence for Kenya, the British in 1960 allowed the formation of political parties; the Kikuyu and Luo joined together to form KANU. Other tribes formed KADU, the Kenya African Democratic Union, whose largest tribes were the Luhya, Kenyas second largest tribe, and the Kalenjin, Mois tribe and the nations fifth largest. Moi was one of the KADU leaders.

One-party rule in Kenya actually began less than a year after independence, when the KADU voluntarily dissolved itself, its members joining KANU. Except for a three-year period in the late 1960s, one-party rule continued uninterrupted in Kenya until 1991. That three-year exception is notable for the formation in 1966 of the KPU, Kenya Peoples Union, by Oginga Odinga, Kenyattas vice-president at the time. Mr. Double O, as he was known informally, split with Kenyattas capitalist-oriented policy and formed the KPU as a left wing, ideologically-based party. He was a Luo, and most of the party members were Luo, so the party represented a break between the Luo and Kikuyu tribes. The final Luo-Kikuyu break came in 1969 with the assassination of Tom Mboya, a Luo and one of the countrys strongest nationalists. The assassin was identified as a Kikuyu, and following incidents of violence against Kenyatta, the KPU was banned and its leaders put in jail. Oginga Odinga, KPUs founder, would later emerge as a voice of socialist opposition against Mois regime in the 1980s.

In addition to concerns over tribalism, Kenyas one-party system was defended as appropriate for an African nation. It was argued that multiparty systems were being forced on African nations by colonial powers, and they were not consistent with African traditions and cultures. It was also argued that most African countries were not sufficiently developed for a pluralist democracy to take hold.

Resisted Pressure From U.S.

While Moi tolerated debate on multiparty democracy, he resisted pressures from the United States to practice pluralist politics. As Moi faced the end of 1990, a year that saw considerable unrest in his nation, he was presented with the prospect that future U.S. aid might be tied to the formation of a Western-style democracy and other conditions. Kenya enjoyed good relations with the West because of its free market and avoidance of communism. With the end of the Cold War, though, he faced increasing pressure to democratize the country.

1990 began with riots in February that resulted when the unsolved murder of Foreign Minister Robert Ouko was linked with possible government involvement and food prices were decontrolled. In June Kenyas Catholic bishops expressed alarm about the unlimited authority of KANU. It was disturbing to the bishops that the countrys citizens were not holding Moi and KANU accountable. It was KANUs policy at the time to purge members with differing views.

Mois tolerance of debate on the multiparty issue ended in July of 1990, when the government began rounding up the leaders of the multiparty movement. Those identified as leaders included former Cabinet ministers Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia, noted human rights attorney Gibson Kamau Kuria, and Raila Odinga, son of former Kenyatta Vice-President Oginga Odinga. Kuria received asylum in the U.S. Embassy and was later allowed to leave the country for the United States, where he would teach at the Harvard Law School as a visiting scholar. The other three were held without charges, and Moi rebuked the United States for interfering in Kenyas internal affairs. The United States countered with a statement that it was distressed at Kenyas repression and arrest of dissidents. As other dissidents fled the country, four days of riots and street violence engulfed Nairobi and surrounding areas. Following these riots, President Moi appointed a KANU committee to begin hearings around the country to determine what political changes the people of Kenya wanted.

While Mois adherence to one-party rule might be justifiable, his rule as president has been marked by a steady erosion of the countrys democratic institutions, including the press, the judiciary, and the voting system. When Moi was elected to his first term as president in November of 1979, five million people, or 80 percent of the electorate, turned out to vote. Over 740 candidates ran for the 158 seats in parliament. At that time, it was typical for only half of the incumbents to retain their seats. In that election, Moi ran unopposed in his own district, and many from the old Kenyatta regime were ousted.

Introduced Voting Reforms

As a result of voting reforms introduced in 1986 that partially eliminated the secret ballot, the turnout in the 1988 election was quite low, and more than three-quarters of the incumbent members of parliament retained their seats. In 1986 the secret ballot was replaced in primary elections by a system of queuing, whereby voters stand in front of the picture of the candidate of their choice. While the secret ballot was retained for general elections, a 70 percent rule was also introduced, which gave the primary candidates automatic election if they received more than 70 percent of the primary vote. These reforms served to reduce the possibility of change in the elected government, lessening the accountability of elected officials and consolidating Mois political support.

Mois attack on Kenyas independent judiciary began in 1986, when the constitution was amended to take away life tenure from the attorney general. Two years later, life tenure was taken away from senior judges. These officials then served at the will of the president, thus effectively eliminating the independent judiciary system. Moi also sought greater control over Kenyas press, long considered one of the countrys strong points. Three magazines were banned. Government officials blocked stories from the newspapers, and the press was reluctant to investigate corruption among cabinet ministers and senior KANU politicians. Mois actions fostered a personality cult and left him unwilling or unable to solve the problem of rampant corruption and maddening excesses of bureaucracy, according to Time magazine. Britains liberal paper, the Guardian, called Mois regime one of the worlds most corrupt leaderships.

When he first became president, Moi promised to attack the corruption that had grown under Jomo Kenyattas rule. Kenyattas estate was valued at $200 million at the time of his death. Moi publicly denounced five members of parliament for illegal practices and began investigating contracts awarded by the Ministry of Works. In an attempt to reduce Kenyattas estate, he authorized the repossession of property by unpaid creditors and enforced the collection of back taxes. However, it soon became clear that Moi was only pursuing incidents of corruption at the lowest levels of government. In his own government, high-level cabinet ministers reportedly made personal fortunes by importing sugar at a time when Kenyas sugar supply was low.

The first years of Mois presidency were filled with the promise of positive developments for Kenya. He virtually eliminated the legal killing of game and the smuggling of ivory and coffee, practices that had been tolerated by Kenyatta. He reaffirmed Kenyattas policy of development along capitalist rather than socialist lines. In a December of 1978 speech, he announced the release of 26 political prisoners who had opposed Kenyatta and introduced several social programs to combat illiteracy, increase universal free primary education, strengthen employment, and provide free milk daily to all primary school children.

Survived Coup Attempt

The first sign of an erosion in Mois popular support came in mid-1982, when rebels from the Embakasi air force base near Nairobi seized the Voice of Kenya radio station, announced the formation of a provisional National Redemption Council, and promised the release of all political prisoners. The coup attempt was launched by junior or enlisted members of Kenyas air force who were quickly joined by students from the University of Nairobi. Although the coup attempt was quickly stamped out, the rebels were joined by slum dwellers in a looting spree aimed primarily at the Asian shopkeepers of Nairobis tourist district and causing millions of dollars of damage. The rebels were defeated by loyalists from the Kenyan army and the General Service Unit, a paramilitary police force. Moi, not in Nairobi at the time, returned to the city and quickly launched a crackdown resulting in 3, 000 arrests, including four-fifths of the 2, 500-person air force.

The 1982 coup attempt revealed dangerous tensions in Kenyan politics. Moi had begun showing his authoritarian bent earlier in the year, when he ordered seven people detained without charges, including four lecturers from the University of Nairobi and their lawyer. In June the constitutional amendment legitimizing KANU as the countrys sole political party was passed. In May of 1983, following the coup attempt, Moi called for parliamentary elections that September, fourteen months before they would have been constitutionally mandated. New party rules enabled Moi to handpick the entire slate of election candidates, since they all had to receive the approval of KANUs executive. During the year, Moi succeeded in purging Charles Njonjo, a former supporter and powerful Kikuyu, and his followers from the government. In the 1983 election, only 48 percent of the electorate turned out.

In 1984 Moi demonstrated a willingness to open a dialogue with student dissenters, even as he introduced measures in parliament that would reduce criticism of his regime. His authority over the cabinet ministers, who accounted for over 40 percent of parliament, was established when they were required to sign a letter from the president stating that they were not at liberty to criticize or differ from the government outside immediate government circles. In effect, senior KANU members were no longer able to express criticism of President Moi.

In 1987, following the introduction of the 1986 queue-voting system and the suppression of the Mwakenya conspiracy during which more than 100 people had been detained, Kenya was cited for human rights abuses. Amnesty International reported on repeated allegations of torture, which was believed to have been used on all political prisoners. Gibson Kamau Kuria, a human rights attorney, began to prepare an unprecedented case against the government. Mois actions were also opposed by the moderate National Christian Council of Kenya, which opposed the elimination of secret ballots and said, The party is assuming a totalitarian role. It claims to speak for the people and yet does not allow the people to give their views.

President Moi responded in June of 1989 to continuing international criticism of his human rights record by releasing all political prisoners who were being held without charges and by offering an amnesty to dissidents in exile. In light of 1990s developments, though, it seems those actions represented no change in the governments intolerance of political dissent.

As Kenya started the last decade of the 1900s, Moi was faced with many difficulties. One of them involved serious declining tourism as violence involving elephant and rhinoceros poaching continued to escalate. Kenyas fabled wildlife and national parks had for years attracted international tourists, making tourism an important contributor to Kenyas economic well being.

Enacted Violent Anti-Poaching Policy

In September of 1988, Moi had introduced a shoot-to-kill policy against the poachers after three Kenyan rangers were murdered. In 1989 the reclassification by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) of the African elephant from a threatened species to one endangered by trade effectively outlawed the ivory trade among CITESs 103 member nations. In a dramatic public statement, Moi set fire to 12 tons of bleached elephant tusks worth an estimated $3.6 million on the international market.

Also at risk was Kenyas rhinoceros population, which was reduced from 20, 000 to only 500. In April of 1989, Moi appointed Richard Leakey the new director of the Kenyan Wildlife Service. Over 100 poachers were shot by game scouts in 1989, and the elephant kill was reduced from 1, 500 in 1988 to only 100 in 1990. The violence continued when George Adamson, a champion of lions, was killed in his camp at Kora Park in August of 1989 and again when a Connecticut woman on a photo-safari was killed by poachers-turned-bandits. Most of the poaching and related violence was attributed to Somali shifta who crossed the border from Kenyas northeastern coastal neighbor.

Moi was reelected in the election of 1993, the first with a multi-party system, and resulting in the first multiparty Parliament. In typical style, he suspended the Parliament after they had been in session only one day, thus serving notice that his government, while observing the letter of democratic practice, would not be embracing its spirit according to The Economist. He was losing popularity in the country fast, with violence erupting in the cities and his ministers cars being stoned as they drove through the streets. Moi had accepted changes in the government only reluctantly and obviously only on the surface in an attempt to reinitiate aid from such countries as the United States that had stopped the money flow because of the escalating corruption in the government. In the meantime Kenya continued to suffer under the harsh dictates of Moi with double-digit inflation and sporadic violence between the tribes. The cities suffered from lack of food, electricity and uncollected garbage while the government expenses increased.

In 1997, in an attempt to bolster a faltering economy, Moi traveled to many foreign countries, wooing investors to move to Kenya. IBM, KLM airways, Del Monte, Mobil and Guinness all responded with ventures in the country. As new investments and a policy of monetary control started working, inflation that had peaked at 62 percent in 1994 went back down to single digits by 1997. However, tourism, still a major industry of the country, was to take another blow as political violence increased and 42 people were killed in a violent attack at Mombasa. In Malindi, a tourist haven, 400 tourist stalls selling souvenirs were reduced to ashes. The political violence, stemming from the fact that this was an election year in Kenya, exploded across the countryjust like it had in 1992. After 19 years in office, Moi was going for another five-year term and the country was unhappy. The Kenyan shilling was at a record low. Loan attempts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were denied because of the government corruption. The people still had no right to assemble and no access to the media. They began to loudly express their dissatisfaction and clamor for change. In October Mois government struck a deal for constitutional reforms and then proceeded to continue their old policies, clubbing demonstrators and breaking up public rallies.

Pastor Timothy Njoya of Kenya expressed his concerns about the state of the county in a December article from The Christian Century, saying There is nothing in Kenyanot even a birthday, funeral or wedding partythat can take place without due authority. And about the corruption, he continued, it is almost impossible to get any license, even to have birth and marriage certificates, without greasing the hands of government officials. For his outspokenness, Njoya has been beaten and arrested. In July of 1997, after a peaceful church service, he was attacked and beaten so severely he almost died. He was only saved because the reporters threw themselves on top of him to prevent further injury.

In 1998, after again being reelected, Moi proceeded to continue his regime in the same manner, packing his ministers with a mixture of the old, the bad and the obscure, according to The Economist. By law, this was Mois last election. Part of the emphasis of these next five years of politics was to ensure that the succession left Moi in power after his presidency ended. Thus he introduced no new factions or dissonance into his cabinet. In an unprecedented act, Moi also removed the vice-president from office, electing to leave the office vacant. In December, under growing unrest, Moi launched an Anti-Corruption Authority. However, this group had limited authority and power.

Final Term Marked by Economic Crisis

President Mois priorities in the last years of his office were apparently to feed as much graft to his coffers and those of his followers as possible and to ensure that he has a successor who will let him remain safe in his retirement. His government is cited as spending over $9 million illegally. The economy continued in a crisis. Roads across the country were in massive disrepair. Tourism continued to decline. The IMF held out loans and funds because of the continued corruption. In 1999 Moi appointed Richard Leakey, an old opponent, to his cabinet as head of the civil service. Leakey has a reputation for integrity and worked hard to remove some of the corruption. He managed to remove 25, 000 dead-wood public servants and get the IMF to promise loans of $250 million, before Moi removed him from office in 2001.

As 2002 neared its end, so did the 24-year reign of Daniel arap Moi. In April Moi was re-elected chairman of the Kenyan African National Union Party (KANU), which absorbed the National Development Party (NDP), giving it around 30 percent of the vote and ensuring his continued political prominence. In the remaining months of his term, most expected Moi to continue to work for his political comfort and a successor that will continue his interestswhile Kenya continues to decay and die around him.

Sources

Books

Africa South of the Sahara 1991, Europa, 1990.

Periodicals

American Spectator, March 1990.

Atlantic, June 1979.

Atlas World Press Review, March 1979.

Audubon, September 1990.

The Christian Century, December 10, 1997.

The Economist (US), Feb 6, 1993; November 18, 1995; January 17, 1998; April 18, 1998; May 15, 1999; February 10, 2001; March 31, 2001, December 15, 2001.

Current History, March 1982; March 1983; May 1987.

Institutional Investor, May 1997.

Jet, July 30, 2001, April 1, 2002.

MacLeans, August 16, 1982; May 30, 1983; July 31, 1989; September 1, 1997.

The Nation, September 11, 1982.

New Yorker, September 3, 1990.

Newsweek, July 23, 1990.

Rolling Stone, October 4, 1990.

Time, November 19, 1979; August 16, 1982; October 16, 1989; May 21, 1990.

U.S. News & World Report, October 20, 1997.

World Press Review, May 1987.

David Bianco and Pat Donaldson

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Moi, Daniel 1924—

Daniel Moi 1924

President of Kenya

At a Glance

Elected President

Resisted U.S. Pressure

Attacked Judicial System and Press

Weathered Coup Attempt

Charged with Human Rights Abuses

Sources

After more than a decade of ruling Kenya as its elected president, Daniel Moi faces serious problems in political, economic, and social areas. Politically a one-party state since a 1982 constitutional amendment legitimized the Kenya African National Union (KANU) as the countrys single party, Kenya now faces increasing pressure from at home and abroad to move toward a multiparty system. The sweeping deomocratic reforms taking place in Eastern Europe and elsewhere have not gone unnoticed in Africa.

Moi has long been a strong advocate of the single-party system as practiced in Kenya. He was responsible for the 1982 constitutional amendment that outlawed opposition parties, and he recently received support on this issue from Nelson Mandela. During his July 1990 visit to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, Mandela defended Kenyas single-party system by asking the rhetorical question, What right have the whites anywhere to teach us about democracy, when they executed those who asked for democracy during the time of colonial rule?

There are at least three strong arguments that Moi puts forth in defense of his one-party rule. Historically, Kenya has shown an unprecedented political stability for an African nation, and the country is blessed with a high level of economic, intellectual, and political development. A proliferation of political parties, Moi argues, would only encourage tribalism over nationalism. Kenya is an ethnically diverse nation of more than 40 tribes, and Kenyan politics have been intertwined with tribal interests even before independence was achieved in December 1963. Throughout Africa, tribalism has been a major deterrent to economic and political development. Wars in Africa nearly always take place between tribes rather than nations.

As a term, tribes is used to refer to specific ethnic groups. Tribalism in Kenya amounts to a fear of the Kikuyu, the countrys largest tribe. Historically, the Kikuyu have been prominent in Kenyan politics; it was the tribe of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenyas first president and the man who is considered the father of independent Kenya. While Kenyatta proclaimed a doctrine of nationalism, many of his policies favored his own tribe. When Kenyatta died in 1978, the law required an election within 90 days. The Kikuyu were split between two powerful rivals from their own tribe, Attorney General Charles Njonjo and

At a Glance

Full name, Daniel Arap Moi; took the name Daniel when baptized by Christian missionaries; born in 1924 to a farming family of the Kalenjin tribe in the Baringo district of the Rift Valley Province of western Kenya; married; children: several. Education: Attended missionary and government schools and received teacher training at the Kapsabet Teacher Training College, becoming a teacher at the Government African School in 1945.

Began career as teacher, quickly advanced to head teacher, and following a series of promotions, became the headmaster of the Government African School, 1954-57. Entered politics in 1955 as a black representative from the Rift Valley; Moi became one of the first eight blacks elected to the Legislative Council, 1957; reelected, 1958; went to London in 1960 as one of the African delegates who helped draft a new Kenyan constitution; elected assistant treasurer of the newly formed KANU (political party), 1961; established, with the leaders of other minority tribes, political party KADU, served as chairman for about a year; served in various ministerial capacities, including Minister of Education, 1961-62, Minister of Local Government 1962-64, and Minister for Home Affairs 1964-67; became Jomo Kenyattas vice-president, 1967, and succeeded as president upon Kenyattas death in 1978, re-elected in 1983 and 1988.

Mwai Kibaki. With the support of Njonjo, the Kikuyu backed Moi, Kenyattas vicepresident and a member of a smaller tribe, the Kalenjin.

Elected President

Moi ran unopposed and selected Kibaki for his vice-president, letting the Kikuyu think they would soon return to power. However, another powerful tribe, the Luo, gave Moi their backing, not wanting the Kikuyu to return to power. Moi consolidated his power when, in 1982, he persuaded parliament to pass a constitutional amendment that made KANU the countrys only legal party.

Fear of Kikuyu dominance in the nations politics stems from the colonial period, when the Kikuyu both benefitted and suffered from the British presence. The British settled where the Kikuyu lived, in Nairobi and the surrounding highlands, where they established tea estates on some of the most fertile acreage in Kenya. From the British, the Kikuyu were exposed to trade and commerce and other modern ways; they also received some educational benefits. Tribes further from Nairobi enjoyed few, if any, benefits from colonial rule, and they resented the Kikuyu.

The British also exposed the Kikuyu to concepts of freedom and independence, and the Kikuyu-led Mau Mau rebellion of the early 1950s was an early attempt to achieve independence. To put down the uprising, the British employed other tribes, thus increasing the animosity between tribes. The Luo, a tribe originally from western Kenya, had their first contact with the Kikuyu in Nairobi, where they came to compete for jobs. In anticipation of independence for Kenya, the British in 1960 allowed the formation of political parties; the Kikuyu and Luo joined together to form KANU. Other tribes formed KADU, the Kenya African Democratic Union, whose largest tribes were the Luhya, Kenyas second largest tribe, and the Kalenjin, Mois tribe and the nations fifth largest. Moi was one of the KADU leaders.

One-party rule in Kenya actually began less than a year after independence, when the KADU voluntarily dissolved itself, its members joining KANU. Except for a three-year period in the late 1960s, one-party rule has continued uninterrupted in Kenya to the present time. That three-year exception is notable for the formation in 1966 of the KPU, Kenya Peoples Union, by Oginga Odinga, Kenyattas vice-president at the time. Mr. Double O, as he is known informally, split with Kenyattas capitalist-oriented policy and formed the KPU as a left wing, ideologically based party. He was a Luo, and most of the party members were Luo, so the party represented a break between the Luo and Kikuyu tribes. The final Luo-Kikuyu break came in 1969 with the assassination of Tom Mboya, a Luo and one of the countrys strongest nationalists. The assassin was identified as a Kikuyu, and following incidents of violence against Kenyatta, the KPU was banned and its leaders put in jail. Oginga Odinga, KPUs founder, would later emerge as a voice of socialist opposition against Mois regime in the 1980s.

In addition to concerns over tribalism, Kenyas one-party system is defended as appropriate for an African nation. It is argued that multiparty systems are being forced on African nations by colonial powers, and they are not consistent with African traditions and cultures. It is also argued that most African countries are not sufficiently developed for a pluralist democracy to take hold.

Resisted U.S. Pressure

While Moi has tolerated debate on multiparty democracy, he has resisted pressures from the United States to practice pluralist politics. As Moi faced the end of 1990, a year that saw considerable unrest in his nation, he was presented with the prospect that future U.S. aid may be tied to the formation of a Western-style democracy and other conditions. Kenya has enjoyed good relations with the West because of its free market and avoidance of communism. With the end of the Cold War, though, he is facing increasing pressure to democratize the country.

The year began with riots in February that resulted when the unsolved murder of Foreign Minister Robert Ouko was linked with possible government involvement and food prices were decontrolled. In June, Kenyas Catholic bishops expressed alarm about the unlimited authority of KANU. It was becoming disturbing to the bishops that Moi and KANU were not being held accountable by the countrys citizens. It was KANUs policy at the time to purge members with differing views.

Mois tolerance of debate on the multiparty issue ended in July 1990, when the government began rounding up the leaders of the multiparty movement. Those identified as leaders included former cabinet ministers Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia, noted human rights attorney Gibson Kamau Kuria, and Raila Odinga, son of former Kenyatta Vice-President Oginga Odinga. Kuria received asylum in the U.S. Embassy and was later allowed to leave the country for the United States, where he would teach at the Harvard Law School as a visiting scholar. The other three were held without charges, and Moi rebuked the U.S. for interfering in Kenyas internal affairs. The U.S. countered with a statement that it was distressed at Kenyas repression and arrest of dissidents. As other dissidents fled the country, four days of riots and street violence engulfed Nairobi and surrounding areas. Following these riots, President Moi appointed a KANU committee to begin hearings around the country to determine what political changes the people of Kenya wanted.

While Mois adherence to one-party rule may be justifiable, his rule as president has been marked by a steady erosion of the countrys democratic institutions, including the press, the judiciary, and the voting system. When Moi was elected to his first term as president in November 1979, five million people, or 80 percent of the electorate, turned out to vote. Over 740 candidates ran for the 158 seats in parliament. At that time, it was typical for only half of the incumbents to retain their seats. In that election, Moi ran unopposed in his own district, and many from the old Kenyatta regime were ousted.

As a result of voting reforms introduced in 1986 that partially eliminated the secret ballot, the turnout in the 1988 election was quite low, and more than three quarters of the incumbent members of parliament retained their seats. In 1986, the secret ballot was replaced in primary elections by a system of queuing, whereby voters stand in front of the picture of the candidate of their choice. While the secret ballot was retained for general elections, a 70 percent rule was also introduced, which gave the primary candidates automatic election if they received more than 70 percent of the primary vote. These reforms served to reduce the possibility of change in the elected government, lessening the accountability of elected officials and consolidating Mois political support.

Attacked Judicial System and Press

Mois attack on Kenyas independent judiciary began in 1986, when the constitution was amended to take away life tenure from the attorney general. Two years later, life tenure was taken away from senior judges. These officials now serve at the will of the president, thus effectively eliminating the independent judiciary system. Moi also sought greater control over Kenyas press, long considered one of the countrys strong points. In recent years, three magazines have been banned. Government officials often block stories from the newspapers, and the press is reluctant to investigate corruption among cabinet ministers and senior KANU politicians. Mois actions have fostered a personality cult and left him unwilling or unable to solve the problem of rampant corruption and maddening excesses of bureaucracy, according to Time magazine. Britains liberal paper, the Guardian, has called Mois regime one of the worlds most corrupt leaderships.

When he first became president, Moi promised to attack the corruption that had grown under Jomo Kenyattas rule. Kenyattas estate was valued at $200 million at the time of his death. Moi publicly denounced five members of parliament for illegal practices and began investigating contracts awarded by the Ministry of Works. In an attempt to reduce Kenyattas estate, he authorized the repossession of property by unpaid creditors and enforced the collection of back taxes. However, it soon became clear that Moi was only pursuing incidents of corruption at the lowest levels of government. In his own government, high-level cabinet ministers reportedly made personal fortunes by importing sugar at a time when Kenyas sugar supply was low.

The first years of Mois presidency were filled with the promise of positive developments for Kenya. He virtually eliminated the legal killing of game and the smuggling of ivory and coffee, practices that had been tolerated by Kenyatta. He reaffirmed Kenyattas policy of development along capitalist rather than socialist lines. In a December 1978 speech, he announced the release of 26 political prisoners who had opposed Kenyatta and introduced several social programs to combat illiteracy, increase universal free primary education, strengthen employment, and provide free milk daily to all primary school children.

Weathered Coup Attempt

The first sign of an erosion in Mois popular support came in mid-1982, when rebels from the Embakasi air force base near Nairobi seized the Voice of Kenya radio station, announced the formation of a provisional National Redemption Council, and promised the release of all political prisoners. The coup attempt was launched by junior or enlisted members of Kenyas air force who were quickly joined by students from the University of Nairobi. Their quick defeat led some commentators to speculate that the coup had been betrayed by another contingent that was to have joined the rebel forces.

Although the coup attempt was quickly stamped out, the rebels were joined by slum dwellers in a looting spree aimed primarily at the Asian shopkeeper of Nairobis tourist district and causing millions of dollars of damage. The rebels were defeated by loyalists from the Kenyan army and the General Service Unit, a paramilitary police force. Moi, not in Nairobi at the time, returned to the city and quickly launched a crackdown resulting in 3,000 arrests, including four fifths of the 2,500-person air force.

The 1982 coup attempt revealed dangerous tensions in Kenyan politics. Moi had begun showing his authoritarian bent earlier in the year, when he order the detention without charges of seven people, including four lecturers from the University of Nairobi and their lawyer. In June, the constitutional amendment legitimizing KANU as the countrys sole political party was passed. Following the coup attempt, Moi in May 1983 called for parliamentary elections that September, fourteen months before they would have been constitutionally mandated. New party rules enabled Moi to handpick the entire slate of election candidates, since they all had to receive the approval of KANUs executive. During the year, Moi succeeded in purging Charles Njonjo, a former supporter and powerful Kikuyu, and his followers from the government. In the 1983 election, only 48 percent of the electorate turned out.

In 1984, Moi demonstrated a willingness to open a dialogue with student dissenters, even as he introduced measures in parliament that would reduce criticism of his regime. His authority over the cabinet ministers, who accounted for over 40 percent of parliament, was established when they were required to sign a letter from the president stating that they were not at liberty to criticize or differ from the government outside immediate government circles. In effect, senior KANU members were no longer able to express criticism of President Moi.

Charged with Human Rights Abuses

In 1987, following the introduction of the 1986 queue-voting system and the suppression of the Mwakenya conspiracy during which more than 100 people had been detained, Kenya was cited for human rights abuses. Amnesty International reported on repeated allegations of torture, which was believed to have been used on all political prisoners. Gibson Kamau Kuria, a human rights attomey, began to prepare an unprecedented case against the government. Mois actions were also opposed by the moderate National Christian Council of Kenya, which opposed the elimination of secret ballots and said, The party is assuming a totalitarian role. It claims to speak for the people and yet does not allow the people to give their views.

President Moi responded in June 1989 to continuing international criticism of his human rights record by releasing all political prisoners who were being held without charges and by offering an amnesty to dissidents in exile. In light of 1990s developments, though, it seems those actions represented no change in the governments intolerance of political dissent.

As Moi looks ahead to the 1990s and a constitutionally scheduled election in 1993, he must also deal with the problem of declining tourism in the face of escalating violence involving elephant and rhinocerous poaching. Kenyas fabled widlife and its system of national parks have long attracted international tourists, making tourism an important contributor to Kenyas economic wellbeing. In September 1988, Moi introduced a shoot-to-kill policy against the poachers after three Kenyan rangers were murdered.

In April 1989, Moi appointed Richard Leakey the new director of the Kenyan Wildlife Service. Over 100 poachers were shot by game scouts in 1989, and the elephant kill was reduced from 1,500 in 1988 to only 100 in the year following Leakeys appointment. The violence continued, though, when George Adamson, a champion of lions, was killed in his camp at Kora Park in northeast Kenya in August 1989. That July, a Connecticut woman on an Audubon-sponsored photosafari was killed by poachersturnedbandits. Most of the poaching and related violence has been attributed to Somali shifta who cross the border from Kenyas northeastern coastal neighbor.

Kenya supported the October 1989 reclassification by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) of the African elephant from a threatened species to one endangered by trade. The move effectively outlawed the ivory trade among CITESs 103 member nations, with only China and five southern African nations (Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa) filing reservations to the ban. Earlier that year, President Moi had dramatically set fire to 12 tons of bleached elephant tusks worth an estimated $3.6 million on the international market. Also at risk is Kenyas rhinocerous population, which has been reduced from 20,000 to only 500 over the past 20 years.

Sources

Books

Africa South of the Sahara, 1991, Europa, 1990.

Periodicals

American Spectator, March 1990.

Atlantic, June 1979.

Atlas World Press Review, March 1979.

Audubon, September 1990.

Current History, March 1982; March 1983; May 1987.

Macleans, August 16, 1982; May 30, 1983; July 31, 1989.

The Nation, September 11, 1982.

New Yorker, September 3, 1990.

Newsweek, July 23, 1990.

Rolling Stone, October 4, 1990.

Time, November 19, 1979; August 16, 1982; October 16, 1989; May 21, 1990.

World Press Review, May 1987.

David Bianco

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