Incumbent declared president of Kenya Daniel arap Moi, 74, accused of corruption and mismanagement

January 05, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NAIROBI, Kenya -- President Daniel arap Moi was officially declared the winner of Kenya's presidential election yesterday, giving a final term to a 20-year-old administration widely criticized for corruption and mismanagement.

The announcement came after two days of unofficial counts predicting Moi's victory. The chairman of the Kenya Electoral Commission, Samuel Kivuitu, announced that Moi was leading his nearest challenger, Mwai Kibaki, a former vice president, by about 550,000 votes in official returns -- 2.4 million to 1.9 million. Though about 147,000 ballots were still to be counted, Kivuitu declared Moi the victor.

"Daniel arap Moi has received the highest number of votes," Kivuitu said.

But when Moi is sworn in today for a fifth five-year term, he will have a mandate from only about 40 percent of the voters, hardly a ringing endorsement of his administration. Kibaki and other opposition leaders have demanded that the election be held again, charging that Moi's agents orchestrated widespread ballot shortages and other irregularities to keep them from winning.

The biggest reason for Moi's victory is the tribal nature of Kenyan politics, an analysis of the returns indicates. The anti-Moi vote was split among four main challengers, all of whom had strong support in their home regions but had made few inroads elsewhere.

The president faced four regional parties based on tribal loyalties. But Moi, 74, has built up support in all of those communities through the deft use of patronage, appointments and government largesse. At the same time, he has kept intact his coalition of dozens of small tribes, mostly from the Rift Valley, and the coast, who fear that a president from one of the larger tribes would ignore their needs.

Moi did not need to resort to crude methods to win, political analysts said. The wily veteran of Kenyan politics triumphed with tactics familiar to any machine politician from urban America: gerrymandering, dividing his opponents along ethnic lines, and making sure voter registration favored his party.

The state-run radio and television broadcasts focused almost exclusively on his campaign during the last two weeks of the race, ignoring his opponents.

Pub Date: 1/05/98

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