Death deals blow to Kenya opposition



Mark Huband in Nairobi

The Guardian, 15 August 1992

A key opposition candidate in Kenya’s presidential race died yesterday, jeopardising attempts by the main opposition party to heal internal rifts.

Masinde Muliro, interim vice-chairman of the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (Ford) and one of four Ford leaders seeking the party’s nomination as presidential candidate, collapsed and died  at Nairobi airport on his return from a visit to London.

“Muliro stumbled and fell after his passport was stamped. We thought he was only slightly hurt. But airport doctors pronounced him dead soon after,” one witness said.

Mr Muliro, aged 71, had played an important role in trying to bring together two factions within Ford led by Kenneth Matiba and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

The factions are split over how to elect the party’s presidential candidate and are using all means possible to undermine one another.

The conflict has raised fears that President Daniel arap Moi will call a snap election to exploit opposition divisions.

Henry Odera Oruka, a respected Nairobi University philosophy professor and political analyst, said: “It is a terrible setback for Ford. Muliro was bridge between the wrangling factions and did not identify with those squabbling.

“His death is a blow to hopes of swift unity and reconciliation.”


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