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Kenyan Official Orders Inquest Into Bishop’s Death

August 20, 1990

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ The attorney general has ordered a public inquest into the death of an outspoken Anglican bishop who died in a highway accident after being threatened by a Cabinet minister.

Attorney General Mathew Muli’s order Saturday, reported Sunday by local newspapers, came after church leaders and lawyers suggested foul play in the death of Bishop Alexander Muge.

They called for a public investigation.

Muge, a leading government critic, died Tuesday, three days after being threatened by Labor Minister Peter Okondo.

Okondo said the bishop would ″see fire and might not leave alive″ if he visted the minister’s Busia constituency.

Muge defied the threat and traveled to Busia. The bishop was killed when his car collided with a milk truck as he was returning to his home in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret.

No evidence has been provided publicly to indicate that Muge’s death was anything more than an accident. The milk truck driver has been charged with causing the bishop’s death through reckless driving.

Kenya’s Anglican bishops said Friday that a church committee’s preliminary investigation suggested foul play. The bishops called for a public inquiry.

The Kenyan chapter of the International Commission of Jurists also called for an inquest to ″eradicate any lingering doubts and suspicions″ as to the cause of Muge’s death.

The attorney general said the inquest would be held in Eldoret, 275 miles northwest of Nairobi. He did not say when it would take place.

An editorial in the ruling party newspaper, The Kenya Times, called for Okondo’s resignation, saying the minister has behaved in a ″deplorably disgraceful manner″ causing damage to the government of President Daniel arap Moi.

Okondo made his threat while addressing a rally of the ruling Kenya African National Union in Busia. He gave no reason for threatening Muge, but his remarks followed Moi’s criticism of Muge for claiming that the president was being isolated by his Cabinet.

Muge, 44, made that claim during an appearance before a committee set up by the Kenya African National Union to consider party reforms.

The bishop supported Kenya’s single-party system, but accused it of corruption. He criticized constitutional amendments which government critics say have undermined the judiciary, led to blatant election rigging and subverted constitutional rights.

The situation is more highly charged because of the still unexplained slaying in February of Foreign Minister Robert Ouko.

Britain’s Scotland Yard has investigated Ouko’s death, but the government has not yet released its findings. Ouko’s body was found four miles from his house. He had been shot in the head and his body was burned.

A day before he died, Muge issued a news release claiming that Ouko was murdered for insisting on a full investigation into Cabinet corruption. Muge blamed Ouko’s death on unspecified members of the Cabinet and civil service.

Moi has denied any government involvement in Ouko’s slaying.

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