Daniel arap Moi, the autocratic president of Kenya from 1978 to 2002, who ruled his East African nation in a postcolonial era of political repression, economic stagnation and notorious corruption, died today Tuesday 4 February 2020.
Fifteen years after Kenya won independence from Britain in 1963, Mr. Moi became president on the death of Jomo Kenyatta
In 1982 Kenyatta banned a new opposition party so he could run unopposed.
Mr. Moi with his nimbus of silver hair, buttonhole rose and ivory baton dominated life in Kenya. He put his face on bank notes, ordered his portrait hung in offices and shops, enriched his family and tribal cronies and, as investigations showed, stashed billions in overseas banks. For much of his tenure, it was illegal even to speak ill of him.
Kenya remained an island of political stability in East Africa, but a democracy in name only, and a land of stark contrasts: dire poverty and fabulous wealth, natural beauty and decaying infrastructures, luxury safaris for foreigners and vast slums for Kenyans, who faced unemployment, crime, epidemic AIDS and one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates.
Mr. Moi won five successive elections. In 1979, 1983 and 1988, he and his Kenya African National Union ran unopposed. Although some 1,000 people died in clashes over constitutional reforms, multiparty elections were held in 1992 and 1997. But the opposition was divided and disorganized, the balloting was marred by widespread violence, and Mr. Moi was re-elected both times.
As the head of state and government, he exercised absolute power. The post-independence constitution vested legislative authority in a National Assembly and provided for an independent judiciary. But Mr. Moi had the right to dismiss judges and other officials, and he and his party controlled legislation and the courts, overriding decisions and suppressing democratic reforms.
Opposition led by intellectuals arose. But Mr. Moi, who also controlled the news media and the police and military services, and whose pronouncements had the force of law, closed the universities and suppressed his opponents with detentions, torture and killings, according to United Nations investigators and human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Africa Watch