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Kenyan Opposition Calls for Elections, Other Tough Action on Corruption Dossier


Opposition politicians in Kenya are calling for early elections and other tough measures following damning allegations by the former head of a government corruption watchdog. The vice president is among four senior ministers named in corruption scandals.

Vice President Moody Awori, Finance Minister David Mwiraria, Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi, and former Transport Minister Chris Murungaru are among those alleged to be involved in the so-called "Anglo-Leasing" deal, which may have cost the Kenyan economy more than $200 million.

It is alleged the Anglo Leasing affair involved the government awards of lucrative contracts to fictitious companies to print high-tech passports and build police forensic laboratories.

Other questionable contracts include the purchase of a naval ship from a Spanish company and the construction of a security communications network. Altogether, corrupt deals conducted over the past few years are estimated to cost around $700 million.

John Githongo, who was permanent secretary in charge of governance and ethics for about two years until he resigned last year, detailed these and other cases in a dossier he sent to President Mwai Kibaki late last year, from his base in London. Some of the details were recently reported in the national and international media.

Opposition politicians and others reacted to the media reports with calls ranging from firing and prosecuting corrupt ministers to dissolving government and conducting fresh elections.

William ole Ntimama is a member of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement group. He tells VOA that, despite the government's many attempts to cover up its corruption, Kenyans have known about the scandals for years.

"The only thing open to them is to pack up and go," he said. "The government has no moral authority to rule this country anymore, and it should go. We want to go back to the people, and then they can make a credible government, one that can be trusted by the people, a government that is not destroying the country through corruption, stealing, and all sorts of things."

Many Kenyans are angry with the current government, which was elected at the end of 2002 on a strong anti-corruption platform. President Mwai Kibaki and his government have taken some anti-corruption measures such as hiring Githongo to head the newly-created governance and ethics office.

But Githongo resigned at the beginning of last year and fled to London, claiming his life was in danger and that he could no longer do his job because of interference from the top.

Last year, Britain and the United States denied former Transport Minister Murungaru visas to their countries. Murungaru, along with Vice President Awori, Mwiraria and Murungi, have all denied the corruption allegations.

Murungaru's lawyer, Paul Muite, tells VOA the groundwork for the Anglo Leasing scandal was laid by the previous government, and that payments under the scheme were automatic according to the prior arrangements and were not authorized by Murungaru.

"Murungaru's position is that he has categorically denied being involved in any corrupt act whatsoever and has consistently demanded specific evidence linking him to a corrupt deal: that is to say, who gave him money, when, where, how much," he said. "That information has not been forthcoming at all."

Muite says British, American, and European multinational companies paid bribes to win contracts during the Anglo Leasing and other scandals and must also be exposed.

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