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US Regrets Defeat of Anti-Corruption Bill in Kenya - 2001-08-16


The United States is urging Kenya's government and parliamentary opposition to reconcile differences over a proposed anti-corruption law. Legislation to set up the corruption-fighting agency failed to win approval in the Kenyan parliament on Tuesday.

The State Department is expressing regret over the Kenyan parliament's defeat of the anti-corruption bill, and it is calling on President Daniel arap Moi and his political opponents to try to work together to find a way to address the country's corruption problem.

The comments followed the parliamentary defeat Tuesday of a measure to amend the country's constitution in order to create an independent authority to fight corruption first authorized four years ago.

President Moi, who has come under international criticism for allegedly tolerating graft, went to the parliament himself to vote for the measure.

Government opponents, however, said the proposed agency would have lacked the teeth to effectively deal with official wrongdoing, and the measure fell 15-votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

The United States had endorsed the bill, and briefing reporters here State Department spokesman Phillip Reeker urged Kenya's political leaders to work together on the issue.

"The United States supports the establishment of effective and autonomous anti-corruption mechanisms in Kenya," he said. "We urge the government and the opposition to consult with each other on the most effective way to address this issue. In order to revitalize its economy and win the confidence of investors and international financial institutions, Kenya needs to begin tackling corruption seriously."

Enactment of the legislation had been seen as critical to Kenya's effort to win back foreign aid and investments, which have all but dried up because of a corruption problem considered to be among the world's worst.

The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday that in the wake of the vote, it will continue to withhold loans to Kenya. The decision means the IMF will not complete a $242 million loan program to Kenya approved last year.

The lending agency suspended payments late last year after disbursing only about $40 million of those funds.

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