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European Parliament Calls for Suspension of  EU Aid to Kenya

The European Parliament has urged the EU to freeze all further budgetary support for Kenya until a resolution to the post-election crisis is found. But as Tendai Maphosa reports for VOA from London, analysts say Kenya is not especially vulnerable to this kind of pressure because foreign aid accounts for only six percent of its national budget.

The European Parliament unanimously passed the motion calling for a suspension of the European Union's aid program for Kenya, totaling $560 million over the next five years.

The European Parliament also called for fresh presidential elections should an independent recount of the votes from the December 27 poll prove impossible. The Parliament deplored President Mwai Kibaki's unilateral appointment of a Cabinet. Parliament members said this has severely undermined mediation efforts.

However analysts tell VOA a suspension of aid to Kenya may not persuade Mr. Kibaki to be flexible. Patrick Smith edits the newsletter Africa Confidential.

"Kenya is one of Africa's more successful economies," said Patrick Smith, who edits the newsletter Africa Confidential. "If you measure success by lack of dependence on western aid funds, it's much less dependent on western aid than either Tanzania or Uganda for example, its two big neighbors in the East African Community."

"In fact, Kenya has and probably will be able to do without foreign aid at all. That's not to say that's not going to affect the provision of social services - schools, hospitals and so on within the society but I don't think the West has a lot of leverage," he added.

Alex Vines of the Chatham House research institute says an aid cut-off would have some impact but not much given the size of Kenya's economy. He added it might embarrass Mr. Kibaki who has been trying to portray himself as different from his predecessor Mr. Daniel Arap Moi.

"I think it will be more embarrassing as a political signal particularly to the president who's made great efforts to position himself as being of a separate era from the Moi era in the '90s when all aid was suspended, and this will of course remind people of that era very much," said Vines.

The parliamentarians called on Mr. Kibaki to respect Kenya's democratic commitments as spelled out in the country's Constitution and in the African Charter of Human and Peoples' Rights. They asked him to agree to an independent examination of the presidential vote and to make those behind electoral irregularities accountable for their actions.