October 14, 2004


Kenya President Under Pressure to Tackle Graft
: Other nations have criticized Mwai Kibaki's inaction on corruption, a scourge that could threaten international aid and investment. (Robyn Dixon, October 11, 2004, LA Times)

Three months ago, in searing language, the British high commissioner to Kenya called on President Mwai Kibaki to purge corrupt officials from his government.

Despite additional pressure from the U.S., European Union and Japan, Kibaki — who was elected two years ago on a platform of zero tolerance for graft — has not fired officials widely believed to have used their government positions to line their own pockets.

Analysts say that those most frequently accused of corruption are some of Kibaki's closest allies, people he cannot afford to fire because his ruling party appears to be splintering.

Members of the international community say they are watching closely to see how Kibaki responds to diplomatic pressure to clean up his government. If he fails, foreign aid and international loans could dry up, undercutting the nation's economy and frightening off investors.

The optimism that followed Kibaki's election and the ouster of former President Daniel arap Moi's ruling party in 2002 has faded. British High Commissioner Edward Clay captured the disappointment over Kibaki's anti-corruption efforts in his address to a group of British businessmen, saying that Kenya was still in the midst of a "giant looting spree," with corruption consuming about 8% of the nation's gross domestic product.

"We never expected corruption to be vanquished overnight…. We hoped it would not be rammed in our faces," Clay said. "But it has: Evidently the practitioners now in government have the arrogance, greed and perhaps a desperate sense of panic to lead them to eat like gluttons.

"But they can hardly expect us not to care when their gluttony causes them to vomit all over our shoes."

This kind of pressure, to conform to Western standards, is very healthy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 14, 2004 1:55 PM
Comments for this post are closed.