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Kenya's Former Attorney General Challenges US Entry Ban

FILE - A photo from 2003 shows then-Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako addressing a judicial commission.
FILE - A photo from 2003 shows then-Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako addressing a judicial commission.

This week, U.S. officials imposed an entry ban on former Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako, citing his alleged involvement in what the State Department called “significant corruption.” At a news conference Wednesday, Wako denied the allegations and denounced the ban, which prevents him, his wife, and son from traveling to the U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the travel ban on Wako and his family in a statement released Monday.

The U.S. has criticized Wako several times over the years for not enough to halt corruption during his 20-year tenure as attorney general from 1991 to 2011.

At a news conference Wednesday in Nairobi, Wako, now a member of Kenya’s Senate, criticized the U.S. allegations as vague and unjustified.

“I am against corruption and I believe I as an individual and the people of Kenya as a whole are entitled to full disclosure on general allegations of corruption against me.

These nebulous accusations and aspersions do not help in the fight against corruption and can be termed defamatory in nature,” he said.

Wako served in the administration of Kenya’s second president Daniel Moi, which was engulfed in numerous corruption scandals. The country’s judiciary was almost defunct at the time, and had a poor record of convicting high-level officials.

This is the second travel ban issued to Wako by U.S. The first one came in 2009, after a disputed Kenyan presidential election that triggered deadly post-election violence.

Wako demanded the details of his corruption allegations to be made clear. The U.S. statement Monday made no mention of specific cases where Wako acted to aid corruption or failed to take action against it.

“This therefore leads me to demand that if indeed the United States of America is a valued and serious partner in the fight against corruption, let them share with me and also make it public for Kenyans to know the full particulars of the allegations of corruption against me,” Wako said.

He also criticized the inclusion in the ban of his wife and son as unfair.

“Even if I committed the sin of corruption, which I emphatically deny, it would be my personal responsibility, and my wife, my son and all members of my family should not be punished for my sins,” Wako said.

High-level corruption cases in Kenya have a history that stretches back to the country’s independence in 1963.

Over the years, the U.S. has often used travel sanctions as an instrument against those it sees as aiding corruption in Kenya and other countries.

The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International listed Kenya as the 144th most corrupt country out of 175.