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Kenya's mysterious case of 'impostor' policemen

Kenya has not been a country of coups since its independence in 1963, but President Daniel arap Moi is worried that some strange incidents may be attempts to undermine him.

Recently, for example, men in uniform - believed to be police - asked hotel, shop, and bar owners to take down the official picture of the late President Jomo Kenyatta, who many people have continued to keep on their walls beside the official portrait of President Moi.

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Some, however, refused to haul down the image of the man who created modern Kenya and who is revered by millions of Kenyans.

In one case the men in uniform pulled down the picture themselves, then threw it into a waste bin. When the proprietor fished it out to put it back on his wall, the uniformed men snatched it and smashed it to the floor.

The impression in Nairobi is that President Moi ordered the removal of Kenyatta's picture. President Moi, however, denied this.

''How can I direct people to remove the portrait of ''Mzee'' (old man) Kenyatta, who I served for many years?'' he said. Moi served as Kenyatta's vice-president for 12 years, and was known to be devoted to him.

Moi suggested that a few disgruntled politicians and civil servants were waging a slanderous campaign against him, (Moi) to make him unpopular with the people.

There appears to be no evidence on the identities of uniformed men. But because the President alleged that civil servants were involved, they might have been policemen loyal to someone other than Moi.

The Nation newspaper said the perpetrators of the action were obviously trying to create divisions and chaos in the country.

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The newspaper noted that the sniping at Moi had ''diabolical timing,'' launched just as African heads of state were in Nairobi for a summit of the Organization of African Unity.

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