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Kenyan President Seeks Extension

June 29, 2002

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ President Daniel arap Moi has called for an extension of Kenya’s parliament _ and his final term in office _ so that elections can be held under a new constitution.

Speaking at a dinner Friday night to celebrate the merger of his ruling KANU party with the largest opposition party, Moi said he supported KANU legislators who wanted to extend the parliament’s current session until the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission could finish drafting a new constitution.

The commission announced earlier this year that it would not be able to finish its work on schedule and that a new Kenyan constitution would not be ready until 2003. Under the current constitution, elections are required by the end of 2002.

Delaying the general election would extend Moi’s second five-year term, his last under the present constitution. Moi’s statement Friday night contradicts statements he made earlier this month that the general election should go forward as scheduled and that he would retire.

Opposition leaders have accused Moi of clinging to power by any means necessary.

Moi’s official Presidential Press Service said Saturday that Moi called the merger with the National Democratic Party an important step toward unity for all Kenyans. He said KANU, which has ruled Kenya for 38 years, was best equipped to lead the country and would win a landslide victory.

Kenya was a one-party state until Moi, under pressure from the international community, allowed multiparty elections in 1992. Opposition parties, though, have been splintered and KANU has maintained control of the country.

The merger of KANU and the National Democratic Party was a major blow to the three other opposition parties, which have not formed a united front in the race against KANU.

When ruling party lawmakers first proposed the idea of extending parliament, the U.S. and British embassies issued statements roundly condemning the proposal, insisting that the elections be held in 2002 as planned.

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