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UK, Kenyans Blast President Kibaki  Over Cabinet Shuffle


The British government says Kenya's cabinet reorganization fails to address Britain's concerns about government corruption. Monday's shuffle is largely seen as a superficial move in the corruption fight.

The spokesman for the British High Commission in Kenya, Mark Norton, told VOA the changes President Mwai Kibaki made to his cabinet do not go far enough to fight government corruption.

In recent weeks, British Ambassador Edward Clay presented 20 government corruption cases to authorities for investigation. In public speeches, Mr. Clay blasted the government for conducting crooked deals, saying that corruption cost the Kenyan economy many times more than the $200 million price tag he quoted last year.

Mr. Norton said Monday's cabinet reorganization convinces neither Kenyans nor Britain that the Kenyan government is serious about eradicating the vice.

"I very much doubt that they [Kenyans] are going to be satisfied with this reshuffle if indeed this is the reaction to what Edward Clay said. This does not seem to be a satisfactory response to the list of deals we [British] handed over," he said.

Mr. Kibaki removed Chris Murungaru as national security minister and re-named him transportation and communications minister. The former transportation and communications minister, John Michuki, now heads the newly-titled provincial administration and internal security ministry.

Mr. Kibaki also fired two permanent secretaries in ministries believed to have been involved in crooked deals, and made several other minor changes the government says "are aimed at improving government service delivery, accountability, and efficiency."

Mr. Murungaru is suspected to have been involved in several questionable procurement deals that are being examined by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Committee.

As he was moving offices, Mr. Murungaru told reporters allegations of corruption levied against him are fabrications of the media, and that the cabinet shuffle is "a normal government reorganization."

Kenyan economist and commentator Robert Shaw says, by keeping Mr. Murungaru and others in the cabinet suspected of being involved in corruption, the government is showing it is not serious about cleaning up government.

"You just swapped two over," he said. "If he [Kibaki] had put someone whose integrity was still intact, that would have been a slightly different issue. But that did not happen. They both got some major question marks about them. There are a number of areas where there has been some questions about how they have administered certain contracts, etc."

Many Kenyans phoning into radio talk shows blasted President Kibaki for keeping Mr. Murungaru and others alleged to have been involved in questionable contracts in the cabinet, rather than firing or suspending them.

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