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Kenyan Activist ‘Demands War on the Corrupt’

  • Peter Clottey

Map of Kenya

Map of Kenya

A leading member of Kenyans for Democracy and Justice, a civil rights organization says the government lacks the political will to root out graft despite repeated promises.

A leading member of Kenyans for Democracy and Justice, a civil rights organization says the government lacks the political will to root out graft despite repeated promises.

Okia Omtata said there is need for President Mwai Kibaki’s government to show seriousness towards fighting corruption.

“I think they are trying to pull the wool over our eyes because President Kibaki has been in power for a long time. He was elected on the platform of fighting corruption (but) he has done nothing to dent or dismantle the infrastructure of corruption,” he said.

Kenya’s media reports that President Kibaki will meet senior government officials Friday to ‘review and take stock' on the fight against corruption. The meeting is scheduled to be held at Kenya Institute of Administration in the capital, Nairobi.

Both the president and the prime minister are scheduled to speak at friday's meeting

Both the president and the prime minister are scheduled to speak at friday's meeting

The officials include all Permanent Secretaries, parastatal heads and provincial commissioners.

But Omtata said the government has so far failed in its graft fight - - a charge supporters of the administration deny.

“To me I think that corruption resides in place (and) that is the absence of the rule of law…right now we have a major scandal in the ministry of education. The permanent secretary (PS) and the minister who should be taking political responsibility for the mess for the loss of a lot of money that will affect very many who are children are still in office. The president has done nothing. Among the people he is meeting today is the PS for education…so what is he going to tell him about corruption?” Omtata said.

Recently, the United States ambassador Michael Ranneberger announced the suspension of a $7 million "capacity building" program for Kenya’s Ministry of Education, citing corruption.

According to media reports President Kibaki is scheduled to give a new look into the fight against graft.

Last year, President Kibaki instructed all PSs to take action against all public officers involved in corruption.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga is also expected to address today’s meeting.

Omtata said the government has not dealt decisively with alleged corrupt government officials

“I’m saying that the president…has appointed very many commissions of inquiry. They have done reports he has never released those reports. They handle those reports to him at elaborate ceremonies these people have spent a lot of money. These are reports that are public documents (but) he locks them up in his shelf. He doesn’t want these things to be known,” Omtata said.

Political observers say the United States, Britain and other major donor governments have recently become increasingly vocal in their criticism of corruption and the slow pace of reform in Kenya.

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