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Kenya's Ruling Party Splits Ahead of Presidential Elections - 2002-10-11

Kenya's ruling Kanu Party is in turmoil following an announcement by rebels within Kanu that they plan to boycott the party's presidential nomination conference, scheduled for next week. If the rebels, known as the Rainbow Alliance, join the opposition, there is a possibility the ruling Kanu Party could be defeated in December's elections.

Accompanied by a chanting crowd, members of the Rainbow Alliance marched to the ruling party's headquarters to announce their boycott of the party's presidential nomination conference, nicknamed Kasarani II, scheduled for Monday.

One of the alliance leaders, Joab Omino, said that the group will hold their own rally on Monday. "We have decided that we shall not participate at Kasarani II, because we believe it will be a mere farce. Instead we shall hold a Rainbow meeting at the Uhuru Park grounds on the same Monday at which we shall announce our next course of action," he said.

Mr. Omino blamed the Kanu Party's chairman, President Daniel arap Moi, for causing the split. He accused Mr. Moi of imposing his choice for successor, Uhuru Kenyatta, on the Kenyan people. "The position of the national chairman, who happens also to be the president of the country, in this case demands that he be impartial and fair to all aspirants. Unfortunately, our chairman has not only shown bias but has clearly acted and continues to act as a campaign manager for one aspirant, namely Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr. Kenyatta, a political novice, is the son of Kenya's founding father, Jomo Kenyatta. Critics say Mr. Moi is supporting him because he believes he can manipulate him once he retires. The president says he is supporting Mr. Kenyatta because of his leadership abilities.

The Rainbow Alliance has been negotiating with two opposition groups about forming a Super Alliance in the December elections. If such an alliance is formed, it would have a good chance of doing something that has never happened before in Kenya: defeating Kanu, which has been in power since the country gained independence in 1963.