Socialist Worker

Masses vote for change in Kenya

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 1832

DECADES OF one-party rule in Kenya in East Africa ended last weekend and people came out onto the streets to celebrate. Election results showed that opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki had easily defeated Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta was the candidate of the outgoing leader, Daniel arap Moi. Moi became Kenya's ruler in 1978.

For the first 14 years of Moi's rule there were no elections, opposition was banned, and torture and arbitrary arrest were commonplace. There were rigged elections in 1992 and 1997. None of this prevented Western leaders supporting Moi. He was close to Tory leader Margaret Thatcher.

Kenya has been a 'model pupil' of the IMF and World Bank, implementing privatisation and welfare cutbacks. The result has been riches for a few (the top 10 percent of the population have around half of all income) but disaster for most.

Infant mortality rose from 75 per 1,000 in 1992 to 105 per 1,000 in 1998. Last week's vote is a sign of mounting resentment. Kibaki does not offer any fundamentally different way forward. He was finance minister from 1969 to 1982 and vice-president of the ruling KANU party from 1978 to 1988.

He opposed the introduction of multi-party elections in the early 1990s. His coalition includes several of Moi's ministers who jumped ship at the last minute. But there is now new pressure for change.

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Sat 4 Jan 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1832
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