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Bishop’s murder politically motivated: The Church of England Newspaper, March 9, 2012, p 7. March 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of England Newspaper, Crime, Politics.

Bishop Alexander Muge of Eldoret, Kenya

Bishop Alexander Muge of Eldoret was murdered on orders of the government of President Daniel Arap Moi, a former member of Kenya’s Directorate of State Intelligence – the Special Branch – told the country’s Truth Justice & Reconciliation Commission this week.

On 5 March 2012, Former Special Branch Inspector James Lando Khwatenge testified that the 14 August 1990 road accident in Busia that killed the outspoken bishop had been engineered by Special Branch to silence him, and to provide an example to political dissidents.

The murder was planned by the security services as “Operation Shika Msumari”, Inspector Khwatenge said. However, the acted on their own initiative to plan the murder he told the commission.

In the late 1980’s, Kenya’s Christian churches were in the vanguard of the campaign to end one party rule by the Kenya African National Union (KANU). The Church of the Province of Kenya in 1990 pressed the KANU government to amend the constitution and allow a multi-party political system, an independent judiciary, protection of tenure for the Attorney General and Auditor-General, a secret ballot for elections, and a limit on the tenure of office for the president to two five year terms.

The country’s churches backed the Anglican call for reform and in June 1990 urged President Moi to dissolve parliament, convene a national constitutional conference and hold free and fair elections. Large-scale political demonstrations erupted in July, which prompted a government crackdown, with the government detaining its most vocal critics, charging them with sedition.

In response, Bishop Alexander Muge of Eldoret and his colleague, Bishop John Okullu of Maseno South called for the president to step down and for fresh elections. On 12 Aug 1990, Labour Minister Peter Okondo warned Bishop Muge that if he and Bishop Okullu entered the Busia district “they will see fire and may not leave alive.”

Bishop Muge told the press the next day: “Let [Okondo] know that my innocent blood will haunt him forever and he will not be at peace for God does not approve murder.”

On 14 Aug 1990, Bishop Muge and his staff set out for Busia in the Diocese of Eldoret, when the car in which the bishop was travelling collided with a lorry. Bishop Muge was killed on impact. The lorry driver was arrested and given a seven year sentence for dangerous driving, but died in prison five years later.

In a radio address delivered after the bishop’s death, President Moi said Bishop Muge was a “devoted son of his country” and said he had learned of his death with “deep shock and distress.”

In his testimony this week before the Truth commission, Inspector Lando Khwatenge stated the security services took it upon themselves to silence the bishop. “Okondo said these words to be seen as a loyal Nyayo follower but then people took advantage of this,” the inspector said.

Inspector Lando Khwatenge’s testimony was cut short by the commission, but its chairman Berhamu Dinka said they would reconvene to hear further evidence on the murder at a future date.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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