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Kenya’s Deputy Minister Urges Kibaki Not to Sign Controversial Bill

Kenya’s deputy minister for information has urged President Mwai Kibaki not to sign a proposed bill, which would effectively prevent Kenya’s Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) from prosecuting any corruption-related offenses before 2003. This follows an earlier petition by the chairman of the KACC, Aaron Ringera, imploring President Kibaki, who rode on the back of anti-corruption to win elections five years ago, to reject the bill. Ringera said the amendment, if signed into law, would not only seriously undermine the work of the KACC, but also empower corrupt politicians to run away with their booty with impunity.

Koigi Wamwere is Kenya’s deputy minister for information. From the capital, Nairobi he tells reporter Peter Clottey that if President Kibaki refuses to sign the controversial bill it could boost his re-election bid.

“I think that he is absolutely right to do so. I myself would actually like to join him and other Kenyans in asking the president not to sign that bill. I think that it is wrong that parliament passed that extending an amnesty to all the people who have done corruption in this country. I think it was a terrible mistake, only comparable to parliament when it abolished multiparty democracy in1982, I think he (Ringera) is right,” Wamwere pointed out.

He said it was rather sad that supporters of corruption unanimously voted for the passage of the controversial bill, which, he said could potentially weaken the KACC.

“You know, this was a miscellaneous amendment that came along with many others, and these kinds of amendments really tend not to be noticed until they surface. In any case, there was a hard battle fought on the floor of the house where those people who are opposed to amnesty for the corrupt lost the battle to those who are advocating it,” he said.

Wamwere reiterated that President Kibaki’s refusal to sign the controversial amendment bill, would not only improve his political clout but also his international image.

“I think if the president refuses to sign the bill, this would definitely improve his standing in society and in the world community, and probably even enhance his re-election. In any case, if his refusal was to cost him his re-election, I think I would say that it is better to win an election and save the country rather than sign this bill, win an election, but lose the country,” Wamwere explained.

He said although the anti-corruption body has not been overly effective, it does not warrant a bill that would render the institution powerless rather than empower it to succeed.

“It is quite true that the Anti-Corruption Commission hasn’t prosecuted many big leaders who have been associated with or accused of corruption, and that has been a big weakness on its part. But I do not think that the failure on the part of the anti-corruption body can constitute an excuse that would allow parliament to give amnesty to the same corrupt people that we are accusing that anti-corruption commission of not prosecuting. It doesn’t make sense. If the Anti-Corruption Commission has not performed well, we should urge it to do better. We should even remove the director and substitute him with a more effective director rather than say, oh because that Anti-Corruption Commission has not done very well in prosecuting these thieves we therefore, give them amnesty. I mean what logic is that? It is madness if you ask me,” he noted.