Violence mars poll in Kenya

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NAIROBI (AFP) - Violence and alleged dirty tricks by the government of President Daniel arap Moi have marred the campaign for Kenya's first multi-party elections in a quarter-century, which are being held tomorrow.

Divisions in the opposition have raised Mr Moi's chances of beating seven other presidential candidates and prolonging his 13-year rule despite opposition accusations of widespread government corruption, say diplomats and analysts.

Commonwealth and US observers have protested over political violence and irregularities during nominations of opposition parliamentary candidates. Mr Moi accused the foreign observers of favouring the opposition, saying the fact that he invited them proved his commitment to free and fair elections.

Opposition leaders have accused Mr Moi of bribing opposition candidates to defect or stand down, preventing them from campaigning freely throughout the country, restricting their access to the media, manipulating the electoral timetable and instigating political violence. Mr Moi's spokesmen say these are the desperate allegations of people who know the results will show they are only also-rans.

Western embassies are ready to evacuate their nationals if the elections tilt the country into civil unrest. Diplomats said yesterday that the American, French and German embassies, the British and Canadian high commissions and United Nations offices had prepared detailed plans to whisk their citizens or staff out of the country if things went wrong. The diplomats stressed they were not predicting bloodshed. 'Such plans are purely routine,' said one. 'But we've been circulating them and making sure people are aware of them.'