President Moi of Kenya has reluctantly achieved what those who created the Organization of African Unity considered impossible - virtually a second term as chairman.
After the collapse of the OAU summit in Tripoli, Libya, last August he extended his term by four months. Now, after a second collapse in Tripoli this past weekend, OAU officials say President Moi ''will continue to serve in the capacity of chairman.''
Members of Kenya's delegation to the summit say that Libyan leader Muammur Qaddafi, who had been due to take over from Moi as OAU president, was ''furiously angry.'' Colonel Qaddafi is reported to blame Western nations - notably the United States, Britain, France, and ''racist Zionism'' - for machinations leading to the humiliation of Libya. He also blamed ''Arab reactionary'' states such as Sudan, Morocco, and Somalia.
Whatever the causes, it is now evident that the OAU has split into two factions, the moderates and the radicals. This, in turn, makes the future of the organization more uncertain than at any time in its 19-year history. While it still symbolizes in theory the continent's effort to achieve unity amid diversity, it has failed to untangle some of the most prickly practical issues dividing Africans.
The first summit in August, for instance, collapsed because African leaders were angered by the admission to the OAU at an earlier foreign ministers meeting of a Western Sahara ''government'' led by the Polisario independence movement fighting Moroccan claims to the territory. Although the Polisario had been induced not to take its seat at the Tripoli meeting, so many African leaders stayed away that a quorum could not be achieved.
After much behind-the-scenes negotiating a second attempt at a summit was arranged for last week. But this one came to grief over which of the rival parties in Chad had the right to be represented. Qaddafi, hardly setting an example of how a future chairman might behave objectively, favored Goukhouni Woddei, leader of an ousted transitional government. He accused Chad's new President, Hissein Habre, who now controls nearly all the country, of being an ''agent of imperialism.'' Neither side seemed prepared to accept a compromise whereby Habre should stay away from the summit in return for OAU recognition.
African states are indulging in tense post mortems. Tanzania has come up with the idea this weekend that a summit should be held at Addis Ababa, the OAU headquarters. Tanzanian Foreign Minister Salim Salim said the OAU had become too politicized and should focus instead on ''urgent economic matters.''