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Police Arrest Former Vice President, Accuse Him of Rumor-Mongering

January 12, 1992

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ A former vice president and a prominent businessman have been arrested, and state radio accused them Sunday of fanning rumors that Kenya’s ruler would turn over power to the army to thwart a possible electoral defeat.

The state-controlled Kenya Broadcasting Corp. said the two, Josephat N. Karanja and Matu Wamae, would be charged with spreading the rumors. The radio, quoting a police spokesman, said anyone caught passing on the rumor faced arrest.

There were no reports of other arrests. The police spokesman, Jeremiah Matagaro, could not be reached for comment.

Karanja, vice president in 1988-89, was among 10 members of an opposition coalition who spoke at a news conference Friday about the rumors, which have circulated for at least a month in Kenya. They urged President Daniel Moi’s one-party government to comment, specifically on the possibility that Moi would try to circumvent democratic elections by a military takeover.

Moi has been under increasing domestic and international pressure to allow democratic reform in the East African nation. Moi’s ruling party legalized other parties last month after industrial nations cut off financial aid and loans for at least six months, and he is expected to call elections sometime this year.

A pro-democracy movement has swept black Africa the past two years, triggering riots and strikes protesting one-party electoral systems. In the 49 nations of sub-Sahara Africa, four dictators have been forced from power and leaders of 16 other countries have legalized political opposition groups.

Kimani wa Nyoike, a former legislator who spoke most at the news conference Friday, said the Kenyan opposition movement took the rumor of a military takeover seriously because Moi faced defeat in elections.

Karanja was named vice president by Moi in March 1988, but resigned a year later amid criticism by his parliamentary colleagues.

Wamae, who did not attend the news conference, is a former legislator.

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