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Kenya's Moi preaches 'love' - but few leaders respond

Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi may be the only national leader in the world who is trying to run his country on love. The African President, who in effect rules a one-party democracy, has made ''peace, love, and unity'' the nation's philosophy.

Moi's message is well received at rallies around the country. He urges all tribes to set aside their longstanding rivalries. But the President has had a notable lack of success in convincing his own Cabinet to heed his policy.

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In fact, there was such strife among his ministers that he recently dissolved the Cabinet and scheduled general elections for September, a year ahead of schedule. And one former member of the Cabinet, Charles Njonjo, has been accused of a role in a plot to overthrow Moi.

The President has also tried, without much success, to spread his philosophy of love on the African continent. During his term as chairman of the Organization of African Unity, he preached peace, love, and unity to warring and divided nations like Chad, Libya, Ethiopia, and Uganda. Although this, too, was unsuccessful, Moi's effort gained respect in Africa and he made it clear that Kenya does not intend to get involved in such squabbles.

Some Kenyans have charged that Moi's philosopy of love is a sign of weakness and that it is not enough to hold this complex country together. Many want a tougher leader and unfavorably contrast Moi's approach with the rough, aggressive style of his predecessor, Jomo Kenyatta.

But Moi has survived these criticisms and may have overcome them. No one is contesting his seat in September's election and therefore he has been declared president again without a vote.

Moi became leader of Kenya in 1978 on the death of the charismatic Kenyatta. At that time, Moi began using the Swahili expression ''nyayo,'' or ''in my footsteps,'' which has come to mean ''peace, love, and unity.'' Some say it has the ring of Kenyatta's slogan ''harambee,'' which means ''let's all pull together.''

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