Kenyan agreement collapses before it starts

PLANS for Kenya's political leaders to meet and form a new and constructive relationship collapsed last night when opposition leaders rejected President Daniel arap Moi's suggestion that he should meet them individually.

'We are not going to agree to be dealt with individually . . . we do not accept that divide-and-rule system,' said Kenneth Matiba, one of the three losing candidates in the recent election who have formed themselves into an alliance. Earlier, George Saitoti, the Vice-President, said that the President 'will in due course meet the opposition parties as different political parties'. He said Mr Moi was busy forming his new government but would find time to meet them. The alliance leaders announced he was to meet them at 10am today at the parliament building, but admitted they had not formally invited him and he had not responded to their announcement.

The opposition parties have, however, agreed to take up their seats in parliament and in their statement last night - the product of four days of wrangling - they referred to Mr Moi as President, the first indication of their acceptance that he won the election. But they repeated allegations of election-rigging and their demand that Mr Moi should act on the ethnic problem and stop 'state terrorism' by 10 January. They did not say what they would do if he missed this deadline.

So the dialogue which Chief Emeka Anyaouku, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, thought he had begun by his emergency mission this week, has already collapsed and become a dialogue of the deaf. It was he who got the rivals to agree to meet, but their intransigence leaves him with little alternative but to return to Kenya to pick up the pieces.

It is now clear that Mr Moi is not going to make any concessions to the losing parties, even though their combined vote exceeded his and they represent Kenya's two largest and most powerful ethnic communities, the Luo and the Kikuyu. Sources close to the President said this week there would be no 'appeasement' and he would play strictly by the rules. One source said Mr Moi would choose his cabinet exclusively from within his own party and he would not consult the opposition about the appointment of the 12 seats in parliament reserved for the President to nominate. But the sources stressed that Mr Moi had reaffirmed that he was President of all Kenyans and would take the ethnic factor on board.

There is disquiet in government circles about further pressure from Western governments. One government source said the President had been forced by the West to hold multi-party elections and had done so and won them. He had always argued that multi-party democracy would lead to ethnic division in Kenya and he feels he has been vindicated by the election result. Now the West seemed to be moving the goal posts and demanding concessions to the losers and a veto over cabinet appointments. 'Don't push us too far,' said the source.