Moi set to meet main opponents

Click to follow
PRESIDENT Daniel arap Moi has agreed to meet the three opposition leaders defeated in Kenya's 29 December election, Emeka Anyaoku, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, said yesterday. Chief Anyaoku, who broke off his holiday in Gambia to fly to Kenya to prevent political breakdown after the election, said he persuaded political leaders to meet. He said he had urged the President and the three leaders to adopt a new approach in which dialogue should replace confrontation.

No date or venue for the meeting has been set and the invitation is to come from President Moi but the opposition is understood to object to the venue of State House as this would confer on Mr Moi the legitimacy the three wish to deny him. In particular, they object to the hurried swearing in on Monday which pre-empted their attempt to stop his investiture by an injunction.

Chief Anyaoku's rescue mission is another indication that the Commonwealth's handling of the Kenyan election will make or break its role as a respected observer of elections. The verdict of the observer team which Chief Anyaoku reiterated yesterday was that, despite a number of serious imperfections, the results broadly reflected the will of the people.

That conclusion is roughly the same assessment as the diplomatic community but falls short of the Commonwealth Observer Group's explicit mandate, which was to determine if the election was 'free and fair'. Chief Anyaoku was careful not to say whether he considered the election was free and fair but one aide described the Commonwealth's position as qualified disapproval rather than qualified approval.

The Kenyan government, perhaps sensing an embarrassing refusal, did not invite Chief Anyaoku to Mr Moi's swearing in. The agreement to talk and the decision by the opposition parties to take their seats in parliament which Chief Anyaoku also reported yesterday, indicates that the opposition leaders are having to back away from their rejection of the poll results. Kenneth Matiba, the Ford-Asili leader, confirmed he would take his seat.

For the third day the executives of the three losing parties; Ford- Asili, Ford-Kenya and the Democratic Party, met in closed session. One of the three leaders told journalists that the first sessions were taken up with arguments about who was to chair the meeting, who was to pay for the room and how many delegates each was to have. After two days they had not even discussed plans for public protests or whether to boycott parliament. The leader also indulged in long personal attacks on his two rivals.

It is difficult not to conclude that the opposition, which split before the election, has lost the initiative and whatever announcement it finally makes will be overshadowed by Mr Moi's choice of cabinet. This will test his willingness to balance loyal supporters who have to be rewarded, with members of the Luo and Kikuyu groups who voted against him.

Finding representatives who will accept government posts and not be regarded as traitors by their groups is an almost impossible task. Western diplomats, however, have said they will look closely at Mr Moi's cabinet before they decide to resume aid for Kenya.

The final results of Kenya's parliamentary elections gave the Kenya Africa National Union 100 seats, while Ford-Kenya and Ford-Asili both won 31, ahead of the Democratic Party on 23. The President is also able to appoint 12 seats in parliament which will give Kanu 112 seats out of a total of 200. Opposition parties are expected to challenge at least 17 results in the courts.

The presidential poll result was: Daniel arap Moi, 36.3; Kenneth Matiba, 26; Mwai Kibaki, 19.5; Oginga Odinga, 17.5.

Kenya at the crossroads, page 17