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EU Urges Kenya to be Serious About Corruption Fight

The European Union says its 18 member states could reconsider their aid to Kenya if it does not show seriousness and urgency in eradicating corruption.

The text of the European Union's statement released late Wednesday praised the Kenyan government for creating structures to fight corruption and promised to work closely with it and President Mwai Kibaki to eradicate the vice.

But in the closing paragraph, the organization said its 18 member states have "important decisions" concerning "their own tax-payer-funded bilateral programs."

An official with the European Union, Otto Moller, said member states will be watching Kenya closely as they make their budgetary decisions.

"The outcome of these decision[s] will depend heavily on [the] government of Kenya's seriousness and sense of urgency in addressing these problems," he said.

Dutch Ambassador Tanya Van Gool told VOA the European Union's statement is not meant to threaten the Kenyan government, but rather an encouragement for it to do better. Ms. Van Gool, whose country holds the EU presidency, would not specify what criteria member states would use to determine the seriousness and effectiveness of the government in the corruption fight.

"We are convinced that Kenyan authorities and institutions know very well what is their mandate and what they can do," the ambassador said. " As I said, a lot of positive work has been done in creating institutions, in creating programs and campaigns. But they need the means to work, they need legitimacy, they need trust, they need independence, and they need to do their job. We have not seen outcomes of that."

Ms. Van Gool said the basis of the relationship between the EU and Kenya is good governance. She said without that, development is not possible.

The EU statement follows a dramatic series of events that began last week when British Ambassador Edward Clay said he presented Kenyan authorities 20 cases of major government corruption worth many times more than the $200 million cost he had quoted earlier.

Several days later, the permanent secretary of governance and ethics, John Githongo, resigned his post. Associates said he was continually stymied in his efforts to expose and resolve corrupt deals.

Reacting to the resignation, U.S. Ambassador William Bellamy announced that the United States would suspend $2.5 million of aid earmarked for government programs to fight corruption. Eight countries including the United Sates and Canada signed a statement saying Mr. Githongo's resignation posses what they called "an extremely serious challenge to the credibility of the government's anti-corruption policy."