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President Moi Orders All Political Detainees Freed: Reports

June 7, 1989

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ President Daniel arap Moi has ordered the country’s jails cleared of all inmates detained without trial or charge.

Kenya’s three English-language newspapers reported the story Tuesday, saying Moi issued the order at a rally Monday in a farming community outside the provincial capital of Nakuru, 98 miles north of Nairobi.

Moi did not name any of the affected detainees or indicate their numbers, but the papers identified three as lawyer Mirugi Kariuki, business executive Israel Otieno Agina and a former Air Force private, Richard Obuon Guya.

Kariuki was detained in 1986 during a crackdown of members of Mwakenya, a clandestine group the government says was plotting Moi’s overthrow.

Agina and Okwany were arrested last year in a renewed crackdown on people suspected of links with Mwakenya and two other secret anti-government groups, the Kenya Revolutionary Movement and the Kenya Partiotic Front.

Officials in charge of internal security, which is responsible for detentions, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Detainees are held under the Preservation of Public Order and Safety Act, which permits indefinite detention without trial or charge.

On June 1, Moi ordered four political detainees freed - businessman Raila Odinga, former political science lecturer at the University of Nairobi Mukaru Ng’ang’a; lawyer Wanyiri Kihoro; and Samuel Okumu Okwany, who was implicated in the trial of Kenyans who secretly traveled to Libya for guerrilla training.

Odinga is the elder son of a former vice president and government critic, Oginga Odinga. The younger Odinga was first detained in 1982, after an abortive coup attempt by junior air force officers. He was freed in February 1988 but was detained again six months later.

From 1986 under last year, at least 100 people were jailed after allegedly confessing to ties with clandestine groups. Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, claimed the confessions were coerced, a charge the government denied.

Moi first ordered all political detainees freed in 1978 when he succeeded the late Jomo Kenyatta, the East African nation’s first president after it gained independence from Britain in 1963.

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