NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — President Daniel arap Moi vowed Monday to use his fifth term to end the graft, injustice and mismanagement that have plagued his previous four governments and put Kenya in a steep economic decline.
“Our people cannot achieve economic prosperity if we continue to have inefficiency in government or if we allow corruption to divert resources from their intended purpose,” Moi said after taking the presidential oath.
Since Moi first came to power in 1978, critics have tied him to the country’s ills, including economic mismanagement, crumbling infrastructure, decaying social services and outright theft of public money.
Moi, however, declared Monday that those who have made a habit of living off graft “should know that their time is up.”
The 73-year-old ruler was sworn in at central Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, as crimson-jacketed members of the 7th Battalion of the Kenyan army, which crushed a coup against Moi in 1982, stood at attention.
Overseas banks cut off multimillion-dollar loans to Kenya last year, citing the government’s failure to tackle corruption. Moi initially rebuffed their interference, but under pressure later promised to cooperate.
Kenya needs $200 million from the International Monetary Fund and $71.6 million from the World Bank to stay on budget, stabilize an erratic currency and finance key energy and banking projects.
More importantly, without the backing of lenders, foreign investment will remain scarce.
IMF representative Reimer Carstens said the agency would send a team to Kenya in February to determine the government’s progress in its pledges to establish an independent anti-corruption body and prosecute those involved in financial scandals.
Though Kenya was full of promise when it broke away from British rule in 1963, per-capita income has fallen from $700 to about $270 over that period. Economic growth last year was less than 2 percent.
Moi has not yet named his a new Cabinet for his fifth — and, he says, last — term. Still, in his speech Monday, he promised a shift in policy.
“My next government will be more sensitive to the needs and aspirations of all wananchi (citizens),” Moi said. “It will be devoid of hate, fear and confrontation.”
Moi’s political acumen obscures the fact that loyalties in Kenya run along ethnic lines. Though a member of the smaller Kalenjin tribe, he has used legislative gerrymandering and power-brokering among the smaller of Kenya’s 40-odd ethnic groups to keep the larger tribes at bay.
Moi invited the opposition — which captured more than a dozen parliamentary seats previously held by Moi’s Kenya African National Union but fell short of majority — to work with his party on political and economic issues.