How Moi Plays With Democracy in Kenya

THE politics of Kenya shows how a leader can be reelected in multiparty elections by playing the game of ''democracy,'' but without much democracy.

President Daniel arap Moi bowed to foreign and domestic pressure and allowed multiparty elections in 1992. But he was accused by the opposition and human rights groups of curbing his opponent's campaigns, controlling registration in his favor, and partially rigging the results.

President Moi won, officially, though with less than 30 percent of the vote, and his party, the Kenya African National Union, also won a majority in parliament. Since then, critics accuse him of acting as if Kenya were still a one-party state. Amnesty International says some political prisoners are still being held. Opposition parties are routinely denied permits for political meetings. Though some publications print criticism of the Moi regime, several journalists have been arrested.

''Autocratic administrations will try to hold on to power,'' says human rights lawyer Gibson Kamau Kuria in Kenya. But they will face continued opposition from trade unions and churches, as well as rival parties, he says. Kenya's opposition remains fractured.

Last year, after British Parliament member Tony Worthington visited Kenya, he concluded: ''I could not say I had any real view of what the opposition parties would do in the event of winning power apart from plugging their own tribes into a state milking machine.''

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