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Britain, US Blast Kenya Over Corruption

United Kingdom High Commissioner to Kenya Edward Clay has launched a scathing attack against government corruption in Kenya, saying that he has presented to authorities 20 cases of government corruption.

Mr. Clay told those attending a journalism awards ceremony Wednesday that the 20 corruption cases he reported join almost 40 other cases in front of Kenya's attorney general.

"There are lots of things about corruption which weakens the state. It distorts the policy process. Things are clearly not bought because they are needed or even offered the best buy, but because they offer the best rake-off. The whole system is an intolerable insult to the citizenry."

Mr. Clay said the grand corruption cases center on the purchase of goods and services mostly by the office of the president as well as other government departments. He said corruption cost the Kenyan economy many times more than the 200-million dollar price tag he quoted in a speech last July.

"If you look at the opportunity costs of the sums diverted into deals which are in some way crooked, they are staggering. But I gave you some examples last July," he said. "If you bear in mind that two billion [Kenyan shillings] would buy 10 million double-sized treated bednets, the availability of such nets would save 130,000 child lives."

Mr. Clay blasted parliament for rejecting a committee report calling for ministers and others embroiled in the Anglo Leasing scandal to be punished.

The government last year had awarded an over-priced deal to a company called Anglo Leasing Finance Company to provide passport security services. It is believed that some government officials received kickbacks as a result.

Mr. Clay also urged the investigation of government tenders to companies called Silverson-Forensic and Universal Satspace and the purchase of civilian ships to be converted into warships for the Kenyan Navy.

Mr. Clay's comments follow a speech given earlier this week by U.S. Ambassador William Bellamy, who urged the government to spend donor funds for AIDS initiatives wisely.

In Mr. Bellamy's words, the Kenyan government "must change how it spends the money it already has, and it must insist on obtaining results from that spending."

He quoted a recent study by a donor that found that the Ministry of Health spends six-and-one-half-million dollars each year for non-existent staff.

In Mr. Bellamy's words, "it is not too much to ask that the ministry stop paying for these unoccupied positions and redirect that funding to real people in real positions."

The Kenyan government spokesman was unavailable for comment. In a printed statement vice-president Moody Awori said, in his words, "Kenyans would not allow themselves to be to be dictated to by foreigners," and that Kenyan officials and structures are already investigating corruption cases.