Former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi dead at 95

Former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi dead at 95
Daniel arap Moi, a former schoolteacher who became Kenya’s longest-serving president and presided over years of repression and economic turmoil fueled by runaway corruption, has died. He was 95. (AP Photo)
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Updated 04 February 2020

Former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi dead at 95

Former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi dead at 95
  • Moi’s 24-year rule saw his country become a one-party state where critical voices were crushed
  • Moi fought off rivals in a bitter contest to take the top job in 1978, succeeding Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta

NAIROBI: Former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, who ruled the country with an iron fist between 1978 and 2002, has died aged 95, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Tuesday.
Moi’s 24-year rule saw his country become a one-party state where critical voices were crushed, corruption became endemic and tribal divisions were stoked and turned bloody.
“It is with profound sadness that I announce the death of a great man of an African state,” Kenyatta said in a statement.
He ordered a period of national mourning until a state funeral is held, on a date not yet announced.
The former president died “in the early morning of February 4 at Nairobi hospital in the presence of his family,” Kenyatta said.
Moi fought off rivals in a bitter contest to take the top job in 1978, succeeding Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, when he died.
The speaker of Kenya’s national assembly, Justin Muturi said that Moi was an “astute politician,” who “employed pragmatic nationalism to keep the country together for the 24 years that he led our nation.”
“He will be remembered for his great efforts toward consolidating peace and tranquility within the Horn of Africa and largely the East African Region, at a very difficult time for the region and the African continent,” Muturi added.
His son Gideon Moi, a senator, confirmed Moi died at 5:20 am (02:20 GMT). “He passed away peacefully,” he said. “I was by his side and, as a family, we have accepted (his death).”
One of the defining scandals of Moi’s presidency was the loss of $1 billion from the central bank through false gold and diamond exports.
A report by Britain-based risk consultant group Kroll in 2007 claimed Moi’s family and clique laundered money on a global scale, buying properties and companies in London, New York and South Africa and even a 10,000-hectare (25,000-acre) ranch in Australia.
Vice President William Ruto, who comes from the same Kalenjin people as Moi, mourned his “legendary personal discipline” and said that his “life and work touched every one of us in lasting, impactful ways.”
Those targeted by his regime included human rights and environmental activists, including the writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o and the future Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.
Moi was however praised for keeping Kenya a relative haven of peace during a chaotic period in east Africa which saw the genocide in Rwanda and civil wars in Burundi and Somalia.
His later return — under significant pressure — to multiparty elections in 1992, and peaceful handover of power to opposition leader Mwai Kibaki in 2002 also won him some praise.
Former opponent Raila Odinga, who spent several years in jail under Moi, referred to the late leader’s “chequered career,” but also spoke of his decision to finally restore multiparty politics.
“Moi and I reconciled after the political differences of the 1980s and early 90s, and we were able to work together to bring more reforms to the country,” Odinga said.
In recent years observers have criticized the “rehabilitation” of Moi as the elderly former president often received visits from President Kenyatta, his opposition rival Raila Odinga and any politician seeking his blessing ahead of elections.
Kenyatta revived “Moi Day” in honor of the former president in 2017, after it was scrapped in 2010.


US decision to withdraw troops dismays some Somalis

US Marines file into an amphibious vehicle for evacuation from Mogadishu, Somalia, after a bloody two-year UN peacekeeping mission. (Reuters/File)
Updated 06 December 2020

US decision to withdraw troops dismays some Somalis

US decision to withdraw troops dismays some Somalis
  • The US program to expand Danab to 3,000 men was supposed to continue until 2027, Sheikh said, but its future is unclear

ADDIS ABABA: US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Somalia in the waning days of his presidency triggered dismay on Saturday from some Somalis, who appealed to the incoming US president to reverse the decision.
“The US decision to pull troops out of Somalia at this critical stage in the successful fight against Al-Shabab and their global terrorist network is extremely regrettable,” Sen. Ayub Ismail Yusuf told Reuters in a statement, referring to the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab insurgency.
“US troops have made a huge contribution and had great impact on the training and operational effectiveness of Somali soldiers,” said Yusuf, a member of Somalia’s Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
He tagged US President-elect Joe Biden in a tweet criticizing the decision.
The Somali government could not immediately be reached for comment early on Saturday to Friday’s decision to withdraw almost all the roughly 700 US troops by Jan. 15.
Somalia’s fragile internationally backed government is due to hold parliamentary elections this month and national elections in early February, a precursor to the planned drawdown of the 17,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force.
US troops have been in Somalia, mostly supporting Somali special forces known as Danab in operations against Al-Shabab, whose attacks in nations like Kenya and Uganda have killed hundreds of civilians, including Americans.
Danab punches above its weight because regular forces are often poorly trained and equipped, frequently desert their posts or become enmeshed in power struggles between the national and regional governments.
If the withdrawal is permanent, “it will have a huge toll on counterterrorism efforts,” said Col. Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh, who served for three years until 2019 as the Danab commander.
He fought alongside US forces, he said, and during his command two Americans and more than a hundred of his own men had died. Both US and Somali forces opposed the withdrawal, he said.
The US program to expand Danab to 3,000 men was supposed to continue until 2027, Sheikh said, but its future is unclear.
Airstrikes will likely continue from bases in Kenya and Djibouti, which could also provide a launchpad for cross-border operations. Rights group Amnesty International says the airstrikes have killed at least 16 civilians in the past three years.
The US withdrawal comes at a turbulent time in the region. Ethiopia, which is a major troop contributor to the peacekeeping forces and has thousands more troops in Somalia bilaterally, is distracted by an internal conflict that broke out last month. It has disarmed hundreds of its peacekeepers already.
Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, but the entry of the peacekeeping force in 2008 helped incubate fledgling government structures that allowed for gradual reforms of the military, such as a biometric system to pay soldiers and the formation of Danab.
But many problems with the Somali military remain, including corruption and political interference. Perhaps a withdrawal will force Somalia to confront them, said Sheikh. Or perhaps it will make them worse.