- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002

NAIROBI, Kenya President Daniel arap Moi, one of Africa's longest-serving autocrats, faces the prospect of being ousted later this the month with the introduction yesterday of a no-confidence motion by opposition lawmakers.
With the defection of Mr. Moi's allies this week from the ruling Kenya African National Union party (KANU), which has ruled since independence from Britain 40 years ago, the opposition now controls a substantial majority in parliament.
Veteran legislator Anyang Ny'ong'o, one of Mr. Moi's fiercest critics, introduced the motion on the floor of the House after receiving approval from the speaker. The motion must now be debated by Oct. 29.
Mr. Ny'ong'o said he introduced the motion because the government was illegally attempting to block the introduction of a new constitution that would dramatically cut the powers of the president. Mr. Moi was also breaking the law by refusing to appoint a new vice president, Mr. Ny'ong'o said.
"The president has disobeyed the constitution," he said. "In addition the Cabinet is rarely meeting. The government is divided. Moi has ruined this nation. He has become very cantankerous in thought and deed. The thanklessness with which he has treated the people of Kenya requires that the people of Kenya give him a piece of their mind."
Mr. Moi sacked Vice President George Saitoti at the end of August and forbade the KANU hierarchy from competing in a primary to choose the party's presidential candidate in general elections due to be held in the next few months.
Mr. Moi, constitutionally obliged to step down after 24 years in power, instead insisted on choosing inexperienced newcomer Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the country's founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, as his successor.
Accusing the president of planning to rule by proxy through 41-year-old Mr. Kenyatta, six powerful government ministers led a quarter of KANU into the opposition Monday. The move left Mr. Moi at the head of a minority government and facing the deepest crisis of his political career.
The remaining KANU party unanimously selected Mr. Kenyatta, the sole candidate, as their flag bearer Monday.
On Tuesday, 22 Kanu rebels symbolically crossed the floor. Entering the House, the members of parliament bowed to the speaker before taking their seats on the KANU backbenches. Moments later they rose, and, to huge cheers and drumming of feet, walked across to the opposition benches.
The sprinkling of legislators on the government benches watched in quiet dismay. The opposition now controls 135 elected seats in the House compared with just 77 held by KANU, according to Mr. Ny'ong'o.
If the no-confidence motion is passed, Mr. Moi must resign within three days. Should he fail to do so, parliament would stand dissolved on the fourth day and the speaker is required to write to the electoral commission to say that the president no longer holds office.
Some political analysts say Mr. Moi is likely to opt for a face-saving measure and call an election next week before the no-confidence motion is debated.
The no-confidence motion is not guaranteed full support from the opposition as many lawmakers, as well as the vast majority of the Kenyan people, would like to see a new constitution in place before the election is held.
Mr. Moi, however, has vehemently opposed the draft, saying it would hand Kenya over to foreigners, and has said he will go to the polls under the present constitution.

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