- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Corruption in Kenya

The U.S. ambassador to Kenya is sounding more and more frustrated as he continues to warn the government in Nairobi that the “kingpins of corruption” are threatening to ruin the key East African nation.

Ambassador William Bellamy yesterday told the British Business Council in Kenya that the United States will suspend more than $2.5 million in aid earmarked for the fight against graft.

“We are eager to work with Kenya to improve governance, and we are in a position to be generous in this regard. But we cannot be helpful when all the evidence suggests that the government isn’t serious or, worse, that government is the source of the problem,” he said.

Earlier this month, Mr. Bellamy warned the government that it is losing international donations to fight AIDS because of official corruption.

Agence France-Presse reported yesterday that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, elected in 2002 on an anti-corruption program, suffered another blow to his reputation when John Githongo, the official in charge of fighting graft, resigned this week after accusing Mr. Kibaki of lacking a commitment to clean up the government.

In his speech to the business audience, Mr. Bellamy said the Bush administration will withhold further funds “until we can gain a clearer picture of the government’s true intention.”

“It makes no sense, obviously, to partner with a government whose commitment to improved governance is purely rhetorical and whose actions belie its statements of good intent,” he said.

Mr. Bellamy warned that corruption in Kenya is “big enough” to damage the economy or, as he put it, “to cause macroeconomic distortions.”

He complained that the “kingpins of corruption operate” inside the executive branch of government.

“Little progress has been made over the last two years,” he added. “Either fight corruption or be overwhelmed by it.”

India wants weapons

India is turning to the United States to fill a major order for fighter planes, and the Bush administration is “considering” the request, U.S. Ambassador David Mulford told reporters covering the Indian air show.

“We are interested in becoming a major player in India,” he said at a press conference in Bangalore, where the air show will open today.

S.K. Tyagi, chief of the Indian air force, told reporters in New Delhi this week that the government wants to buy 125 fighters and has sought information from Lockheed Martin, which makes F-16s. He said India also is looking at the Swedish Gripen, French Mirage and Russian MiG-29 fighters.

Mr. Mulford said the United States has received a “request for information” from India.

“We are considering that matter at the moment. No decision has been made,” he said.

Pakistan, India’s nuclear rival in South Asia, also is seeking U.S. F-16s.

Thanks to Salvador

The Bush administration is praising El Salvador for its decision to keep its small contingent of troops in Iraq.

“The United States is grateful for the work done by the Salvadorans and definitely welcomes the participation of a fourth contingent,” U.S. Ambassador Douglas Barclay told reporters this week in the capital, San Salvador.

Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca decided to send fresh troops to replace the 380 already serving in Iraq. This will be the fourth deployment since the small Central American nation joined the “coalition of the willing” to help liberate Iraq.

Mr. Saca announced his decision after a telephone conversation last week with President Bush, according to reports from El Salvador.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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