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Kenyan Anti-Corruption Move Greeted with Skepticism - 2002-01-15

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has appointed a team of experts in a fresh bid to stamp out corruption. The new initiative has been met with skepticism.

President Moi said the experts will advise on what is required to "create a nationally and internationally credible machinery, which will combat corruption and promote integrity in the public sector."

The advisors will be led by three British experts, including Graham Stockwell, a former commander of the London Metropolitan Police and ex-director of anti-corruption authorities in Hong Kong and Botswana.

Opposition figures were quick to dismiss the move as a ploy to trick donors into releasing frozen funds. In 2000, the International Monetary Fund stopped lending to Kenya because of the government's perceived lack of commitment to fighting graft.

The government is now short of cash, with a gaping balance of payments deficit and elections due later this year.

Musikari Kombo, an opposition member of parliament and chair of the Kenyan chapter of the African Parliamentary Network Against Corruption, believes the international experts will not be able to come up with anything new.

Mr. Kombo says the Kenya Anti Corruption Authority, or KACA, was doing a good job before it was declared unconstitutional and shut down in 2000. "For me, this is vintage Moi," he said. "He will always rush around to appoint committees or experts from outside in order to buy time. Information, which is needed for us as Kenyans to formulate an anti-corruption strategy, is already available in this country and the government has got it. It has it from the report that the parliamentary committee that I chaired against corruption produced. It has got it from KACA, which for a long time formulated a strategy and involved a number of stakeholders and so on and so forth. So you do not need yet another consultant because the information is already there. What is lacking, as far as I am concerned, is the political will to act."

Kiraitu Murungi, the shadow Attorney General in the Democratic Party agrees that the Kenyan government is not serious about tackling corruption. Mr. Murungi says this is because corruption stems from the heart of government. "This team is not going to change anything and we think it is just going to be a waste of public resources and time," he said. "Because corruption lies at the root of the Kenyan government and the only way to effectively fight corruption in this country is to change the regime. There is no political will to fight corruption in this country because the key corrupt elements are in control of the government. It is like asking them to commit suicide."

Last year, the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International rated Kenya the fifth most corrupt country in the world.