Moi says Kenya is being pushed towards civil war

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The Independent Online
NAIROBI - Polling observers from the Commonwealth gave a qualified endorsement yesterday to Kenya's first multi-party elections in 26 years, as President Daniel arap Moi accused the opposition of pushing Kenya towards civil war. Kenya's three main opposition parties said they rejected the results of the elections and accused Mr Moi's ruling party of rigging and fraud.

The Commonwealth Observer Group said: 'This was an election which proved difficult to evaluate in terms of freeness and fairness. It was evident to us from the start that some aspects of the election were not fair.' However, its statement went on: 'The evolution of the process to polling day and the subsequent count was increasingly positive to a degree that we believe that the results in many instances directly reflect, however imperfectly, the expression of the will of the people.'

In an earlier joint statement, the opposition parties said they would not take up their seats in a new pluralist parliament and called for fresh elections.

'The parties will work together to initiate the necessary framework and modalities to prevent Daniel arap Moi from assuming office as a result of those fraudulent elections,' the statement said. Mr Moi, who has been President for 14 years, is set to win the presidential race.

But his ruling Kenyan Africa National Union (Kanu) party has been heavily outpolled by the combined opposition of Ford-Asili, Ford-Kenya, and the Democratic Party (DP), and has lost its once-total control of parliament.

The statement was read to a news conference at a central Nairobi hotel by Mwai Kibaki, the DP leader and formerly one of Mr Moi's vice-presidents. Mr Kibaki was flanked by the opposition frontrunner, Kenneth Matiba of Ford-Asili, and Jaromogi Oginga Odinga, the veteran politician who leads Ford-Kenya.

Mr Moi, accepting for the first time the results of the elections, condemned the opposition refusal to accept the results. 'I have said many times . . . they are pushing the country towards civil war,' he said. The opposition move immediately raised the political temperature in the country. At least 30 people were killed in the run-up to polling, but last Tuesday's parliamentary and presidential elections passed off with only minor violence. Late on Thursday four people were killed in fresh ethnic fighting in Mr Moi's Rift Valley province power base.

With only 27 constituencies out of 188 still to declare Mr Moi, 68, had an unbeatable lead yesterday, but the results showed Kanu close to losing control of parliament. Mr Moi had won 1,763,226 votes with Mr Matiba at 1,242,705.

Kanu had won just under half the 161 parliamentary seats counted so far, but most of the results still to come are from remote areas where only the ruling party is strong. Kanu needs 95 seats for a simple majority. Constitutional lawyers said Mr Moi, in order to push his policies through parliament, needed two-thirds of the 200-seat house. Under Kenya's constitution the president can nominate 12 extra parliament members to boost his party tally.

The ballot of some 7.9 million voters from Kenya's population of 24.2 million stripped Mr Moi of 15 cabinet ministers.