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Kenyan Government Urged to Publish Financial Disclosure Statements - 2003-11-05

An anti-corruption research center in Nairobi urges the Kenyan government to publish the financial disclosure statements of all civil servants. Kenya's president has given the civil servants until mid-November to disclose their wealth.

Transparency International-Kenya says it is happy with President Mwai Kibaki's recent ultimatum to civil servants to declare their wealth by the middle of this month or be fired and prosecuted.

The organization's deputy director explains the move is a step in the right direction in stamping out corruption in the country.

"It is a good sign that they keep reiterating that they are going to take this declaration exercise to the full extent, including prosecuting people who fail to declare," he said.

President Kibaki, who declared his own wealth last month, made the announcement at the African Parliamentarians' Network Against Corruption conference Monday in Nairobi.

The financial disclosure, which President Kibaki said is part of his government's anti-corruption strategy, falls under the Public Officer Ethics Act enacted in May.

Mr. Mati says the information about the civil servants' wealth should be disclosed not only to the government, but also to the general public. At present, he says, such data are stored and given out only to the police or the country's anti-corruption committee in cases of criminal investigation.

Anyone else, he says, would be penalized for trying to publish such information.

"If I were to find some civil servant's declaration and to publish it, I would be liable to a bigger fine," he noted. "In fact, I think it is exactly double the amount as if that civil servant had failed to declare his wealth or had made a faulty declaration."

Mr. Mati says the general public should be included in the process of verification of the accuracy of financial disclosure statements.

In neighboring Uganda, all 23 senior government ministers last month disclosed their assets and liabilities and the information was in a nationwide newspaper, Sunday Vision.