Kenya ballot rigging row risks turmoil

Mark Huband in Nairobi

The Guardian, 2 January 1993


KENYA last night faced a political crisis after opposition parties united in rejecting the country’s first multi-party election for 26 years, and President Daniel arap Moi in turn accused them of pushing the country towards civil war.

The three main opposition parties claimed the election was rigged and launched a cross-party campaign to prevent Mr Moi, president since 1978, returning to power. Latest figures show Mr Moi ahead in the presidential race with 1.7 mil lion of the 5 million votes so far counted, with Kenneth Matiba in second place.

Provisional parliamentary results put the ruling Kenya African National Union (Kanu) party ahead with 85 seats, 10 short of an overall majority with 33 seats still to declare.

The united stance by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Mr Matiba, leaders of the parties formed after the split in the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (Ford), with the Democratic Party leader Mwai Kibaki, would have been unthinkable only three days ago. Then Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki accused Mr Matiba of receiving money from Kanu, which has ruled since independence in 1963.

Yesterday’s statement said they “protest [at] the massive rigging of the entire election and reject the result owing to numerous irregularities”.

Mr Moi, who was forced to hold the election by domestic and international pressure, last night condemned the opposition refusal to accept the results. “I have said many times . . . they are pushing the country towards civil war. If they wanted a multi-party system they should have been the first to accept this result.

“I have restrained myself despite abuse for the last 12 months. This will now cease. I have forgiven them for abusing me, but no further,” he said, emphasising that he would not
re-run the poll.

The opposition statement was followed by a lukewarm acceptance of the result by the Commonwealth Observer Group monitoring the vote. It concluded that “from the start some aspects of the election were not fair”. The three opposition leaders now plan to bury their differences and try to force the government to scrap the poll.

“We are not going to recognise elections which have been so rigged they are worthless. We resolve to force a common front in the country. The opposition parties will work together to create the framework to prevent Moi from assuming office,” Mr Matiba said.

They have not decided whether opposition candidates who won parliamentary seats will take them up.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited