Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Kenyan Opposition Stymied despite Election Success Moi's Government Continues to Act as Single-Party State

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Kenyan Opposition Stymied despite Election Success Moi's Government Continues to Act as Single-Party State

Article excerpt

KENYANS are learning a lesson being forced on many Africans: that the gains by political opposition groups through elections are no guarantee of change or peace.

More than a month after Kenya's historic multiparty elections, in which opposition parties won 44 percent of the parliamentary seats, President Daniel arap Moi is showing no sign of even recognizing that there is an opposition.

Mr. Moi won reelection in the Dec. 29 poll, with only 36 percent of the vote, defeating seven opponents.

"He's behaving ... as if we were still a single-party {country}," says Lilian Mwaura, chairman of the National Council of Women of Kenya. "Nothing has changed. We have the same people in government."

Moi temporarily closed the new, multiparty Parliament Jan. 27, after it had met for only one day to select a Speaker. The opposition thus had no chance to raise the kinds of issues they campaigned on, including Kenya's sliding economy and allegations of government corruption.

"The message being sent {to the opposition} is: `Your votes don't count,' " says Kenyan attorney and human rights advocate Gibson Kamau Kuria. "Nothing has changed, as far as the government is concerned."

And exercising his constitutional right to appoint 12 members to the 200-member Parliament, Moi chose only members of his party, and mostly ones from his last government who had lost their seats in the Dec. 29 election.

"That is a slap on the electorate," says Chiuri Ngugi, director of the Legal Education and Aid Program, a private organization in Nairobi. A government spokesman says the president chose persons he could be sure were "loyal" to him.

"There's been no meeting with the opposition or recognition of the role they are to play," a Western diplomat here notes. "I don't interpret his {Moi's} actions as full acceptance of multiparty {politics}."

James Simani, director of political affairs in Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says Parliament was shut after only a day to allow government and opposition members to prepare position papers. …

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