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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kenya Sets Landmark Polls for December

Kenya Sets Landmark Polls for December

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - This month Kenya will have its first multi-party elections

since 1966.

The elections would come one year after the ruling Kenya African National Union,

under intense pressure from western aid donors, surrendered its monopoly on power.

The elections will be held on Dec. 7, said Justice Z.R. Chesoni, head of the National

Electoral Commission, in a statement on the Kenya television network.

Opposition figures and some independent analysts have cast doubt on President Daniel

Arap Moi's commitment to free and fair elections, saying the government supports

and funds the ruling party.

They point to withheld or cancelled permits for opposition rallies and to the near-monopoly

the ruling party holds on state-run broadcast services.

International observers have been invited to the polls.

KANU, the ruling party, has been in power since independence from Britain in 1963.

It last faced a contested election in 1966, proscribing the sole opposition party

three years later. In 1982, the KANU parliament banned all organized opposition,

but reversed the ban last year after donors cut aid.

KANU now faces three major opposition parties and a number of minor parties.

Demand for multi-party democracy in Kenya swelled in 1989. Nation-wide riots sparked

by the political agitation erupted after the arrest and detentions without trials

of leading pro-democracy activists. Clerics and lawyers accused KANU of repression

and corruption.

Despite protests from embassies concerned about human and political rights, Moi vowed

to retain the single-party system. But after aid donors, who supply nearly one third

of the government budget, met in Paris last November and suspended aid pending political

liberalization, Kenya's government legalized opposition within weeks.

Little international aid has been restored, and the country is suffering under double-digit

inflation and sluggish growth.

The election announcement came amid a wave of democratization across Africa.



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