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Primate Predicts President Moi's Kingdom Will Crumble

Posted on: July 21, 1997 1:42 PM
Related Categories: Kenya

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi's days are numbered and his kingdom will crumble, Kenya's Anglican Archbishop David Gitari warned on 17 July.

Archbishop Gitari was giving an exclusive interview to ENI following the suppression by Kenyan security forces of pro-democracy demonstrations, which included the storming of All Saints' Anglican Cathedral in Nairobi where demonstrators where sheltering. He was speaking from Johannesburg, where he has this week been meeting with fellow African Anglican Archbishops at the All Africa Primates' Conference.

"Moi allowed the All Saints Cathedral to be defiled when his police stormed it to break up pro-democracy demonstrations. That is enough to bring down divine wrath on him, as the writing appeared on the wall when King Belsassar defiled the holy vessels in the Book of Daniel.

"I am no prophet nor a son of a prophet, but I told Moi myself that his days are numbered and his kingdom will crumble if he refuses to repent and accept constitutional changes."

Last week's violence followed the decision of lobbyists for reform to hold pro-democracy rallies without prior government permission.

"In the past, such permission has either been refused or given only at the eleventh hour," the Archbishop explained. "So now the demonstrators decided to go ahead regardless. That's when the police stepped in and tried to stop them violently."

Kenya had its first multi-party elections in 1992 and Daniel arap Moi won because the opposition was divided. The Constitution favours his ruling KANU party, so the demonstrators want the Constitution changed before the next elections, which must be held before the end of the year. If no changes are made, it is almost certain that President Moi - already 19 years in power - will be re-elected. President Moi up until now has refused to make changes, suggesting that there is not enough time to do so before elections.

However, in a seemingly conciliatory gesture, President Moi on 16 July announced that "from now on, licences for public rallies will be issued automatically". He also agreed to meet with opposition leaders next week to discuss democratic reforms.

"He is feeling the pressure from inside the country and after the condemnation of the whole world," Archbishop Gitari said. The governments of the US, Britain and Japan were among those pressing President Moi for reform.

The Archbishop said President Moi also felt the pressure when he met with him and other Church leaders on Tuesday, the day before he left for the Johannesburg conference. The meeting included five members of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), five Catholic archbishops and two Muslim leaders.

"We put a lot of pressure on him. We told him there would be a lot of trouble if he does not agree to constitutional changes," Archbishop Gitari said.

The opposition was still divided, as it was before the 1992 elections, but was beginning to see the need to unite. "We in the Church will do everything possible to get them to work together in unity," the Archbishop said.

He scotched media reports that the NCCK might put up its own candidate for president in the upcoming elections. The name of Anglican Bishop Henry Okullu has been mentioned.

"The idea of putting up a Church leader for president came from only one region of the NCCK. The council itself never made such a suggestion. Personally, I don't think it is wise for a Church leader to do so. Our work is not to take over the presidency, but to be the light of the world."

A Church leader could possibly take over for a short while only, in a transitional capacity, Archbishop Gitari suggested. "But I can do a better job as an archbishop than as a politician," he told ENI.

He mentioned Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa as a good example: "During apartheid he was strongly involved in the political struggle, but when the new government came in, he did not aspire to become a politician but stepped back."

At the end of their meeting this week, the primates' conference sent a letter to President Moi, condemning the defilement of the cathedral in Nairobi by police last week.

"I find this very strengthening and encouraging. We in Kenya have received messages of support from various parts of the world, including the Archbishops of Canterbury, Canada and Korea, the Church of the Province of Southern Africa and the Synod of the Church of England," Archbishop Gitari said.

The primates' conference also sent a letter to the Nigerian head of state, General Sani Abacha because the Archbishop of Nigeria, Joseph Adetiloye, could not travel to Johannesburg this week as his passport had been confiscated earlier this year following a trip overseas.