Daniel Arap Moi, Kenya's Longtime Strongman, Dies At 95 Moi ruled Kenya for nearly a quarter century from 1978 to 2002, a period marked by repression, widespread corruption and economic stagnation.
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Daniel Arap Moi, Kenya's Longtime Strongman, Dies At 95

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Daniel Arap Moi, Kenya's Longtime Strongman, Dies At 95

Daniel Arap Moi, Kenya's Longtime Strongman, Dies At 95

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Kenya's former dictator Daniel arap Moi has died at the age of 95. The country has declared a period of national mourning, calling him one of Africa's greatest leaders. But as NPR's Eyder Peralta reports, the legacy he leaves behind is mixed.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Daniel arap Moi was sworn into office in 1979, after the death of Kenya's founding father.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANIEL ARAP MOI: (Non-English language spoken) Daniel Toroitich arap Moi...

PERALTA: On the world stage, Moi was a fervent anti-communist, a loyal ally to the West. And at home, he was a man of the people. And according to his friend and political ally Milton Njoroge, Moi didn't sit at State House. He toured the country, attracting crowds on the roadside.

MILTON NJOROGE: Whenever there was a little issue, you'll find Moi flying or going by road to that place.

PERALTA: Things changed dramatically after an attempted coup in 1982. Moi turned into a ruthless authoritarian - imprisoning, torturing and killing his foes; making it illegal to say a bad word about him on the streets. His rule did not end well. His party was voted out in 2002. And as he rode to his successor's inauguration, crowds flung at mud at him. But Njoroge says Moi did what few other African leaders had done before. He gave up power peacefully without resorting to what he calls state machineries.

NJOROGE: Our former head of state, my brother who ruled the country for 24 years, has so many machineries all over, and he can use them. President Moi never, never did that. That's Moi's legacy.

PERALTA: Moi, an autocrat for two decades, begrudgingly became the father of Kenya's multiparty democracy.

Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Nairobi.

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