- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2002

NAIROBI, Kenya Facing furious criticism at home and abroad, President Daniel arap Moi appeared to back down from a plan to delay this year's elections, but was quickly accused of insincerity by both the opposition and Western diplomats.
On Tuesday, Mr. Moi's ruling party, the Kenya African National Union, or KANU, announced it would seek to extend the president's term of office and the life of parliament by up to 12 months beyond this December's scheduled election date.
Britain and the United States condemned the announcement, warning Mr. Moi that they would not "sit quietly" if the balloting was postponed. The opposition threatened mass protests and a general strike.
Forty-eight hours later, the president, whose recent assaults on democracy have drawn parallels with President Robert Mugabe's crackdowns on the opposition in Zimbabwe, made a speech that demonstrated why Kenyans call him the "professor of politics."
He first denounced his own party's proposal to delay the vote, but then portraying himself as a servant of the nation's democratic institutions insisted he had no power to intervene if the parliament chose to postpone the election.
"As I have said in the past, according to the current schedule, the elections will be held at the end of the year," he said. But, he added, "I cannot dictate to Parliament, nor can I oppress the opinions of Kenyans."
Opposition leaders, who say the 76-year old leader wants an extension so he can celebrate his silver jubilee in October next year, accused Mr. Moi of using his party to do his dirty work and warned the West not to fall for the ploy.
"Don't believe a word Moi is saying," said Kijana Wamalwa, joint leader of an opposition coalition, the National Alliance for Change.
"He is not sincere at all. This is just typical double-speak as usual. If he didn't want an extension, do you think KANU would dare to propose one? It is a very cunning game he is playing."
On several occasions in the past, analysts say, Mr. Moi has used his party's majority in Parliament to push through unpopular legislation or bring about the downfall of a powerful rival while simultaneously distancing himself from the process.
Mr. Moi rules his party with an iron fist, personally dressing down those who do not toe the line. Dissidents often end up bankrupt, politically finished and, occasionally, even dead.


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