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Clinton Urges Kenya Youth to Fight Corruption with Technology


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton challenged Kenya's youth Thursday to utilize new media technologies to shine light on public corruption in the country. She continued her message that only Kenyans can solve Kenya's problems.

Secretary Clinton told the Kenyan crowd that corruption is best fought through transparency. She said that the Kenyan public can play a significant role in bringing the corruption to light.

"Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and I think there is an opportunity for young people and for civil society to use modern technology to run corruption watches and reporting," she said..

Citing the example of the ongoing protests in Iran, she encouraged the youth to use online social media tools in their battle to bring about government reform.

"There ought to be a way to use interactive media, especially the Internet obviously, and some of the new vehicles like Twitter, etc., to report in real time allegations of corruption," she said.

Mrs. Clinton suggested to Kenyans that even if no public figure yet existed who would act on the corruption charges, the generation of public discussion alone would provide pressure for reform. She urged Kenyans to strategize beyond her statements to come up with concrete actions.

"Making it public and making it part of the public dialogue and making it so people are talking in social circles about people could very well create public pressure to do something. These are just ideas, and you have to figure out what will work for Kenya," she added.

The secretary gave her remarks at a public forum hosted at the University of Nairobi.

She opened up the forum by reassuring Kenyans that U.S. President Barack Obama cares deeply about the country, the homeland of Obama's father. The president has been critical of the Kenyan government and skipped the country in his first visit to Africa since being elected.

Secretary Clinton offered more strong criticism of Kenya's leadership at the forum. She said that the government needs reform not just because of the violence following the December, 2007 election, but because of a long pattern of decisions made by Kenya leaders that are poor for the country.

She stated that the U.S. is considering targeting those individuals in Kenya behind public corruption and organized violence if the impunity is not tackled internally. She did not specify what actions the U.S. government might take.

Responding to criticisms by the Kenya prime minister on Tuesday that Africa did not need lectures from the West on governance, the secretary said that it would be far easier for the U.S. to ignore the country's internal issues and just work with the nation's leaders on terrorism and regional stability. She characterized her country's criticisms as coming from a friend to the Kenyan people.

Earlier in the morning Clinton visited a memorial for the victims of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing. Friday is the 11th anniversary of the blast that killed 218, only 12 of whom were Americans.

Secretary Clinton helped place a wreath at the memorial site and then paid her respects to the victims of the terrorist attack. She was joined by survivors of the attack.

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