- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2005

From combined dispatches

NAIROBI, Kenya — Reeling from criticism of rampant corruption and the resignation of a top anti-graft official, the government has appointed a new prosecution team to speed up graft trials, the attorney general said yesterday.

Attorney General Amos Wako said the government has set up a Corruption Prosecution Unit and employed nearly a dozen state counsels to prosecute corrupt government officers and money launderers.

The announcement comes a day after the United States said it was suspending aid to Kenya’s anti-graft agencies after the surprise resignation of its top anti-corruption official.

Analysts said Mr. Wako’s move was aimed at appeasing other donors.

“I intend to increase the number of the prosecutors because we need to have an adequate number of counsels who are ready to prosecute if we are to win the war against corruption,” he said.

International donors say government corruption has increased since President Mwai Kibaki took power in 2002 and that the government is doing very little to pursue those responsible.

Mr. Wako said the new legal team would mean more cases come to trial.

Mr. Kibaki’s adviser in the fight against corruption, John Githongo, resigned Monday, dealing the biggest blow to the president’s election pledge to root out the public corruption hobbling East Africa’s largest economy.

Friends said Mr. Githongo felt frustrated by government officials in his pursuit of people close to the president.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya William Bellamy said the government’s lack of action cast doubt on its desire to stamp out graft.

Mr. Wako played down the U.S. aid suspension. “Our commitment is not dependent on any aid from anybody; our commitment is deep in our hearts, and we shall continue to fight corruption with or without aid,” he said.

In a separate development yesterday, Satoru Miyamura, Japan’s ambassador to Kenya, signed an agreement with Finance Minister David Mwiraria in Nairobi, lending the equivalent of $9.8 million for activities aimed at boosting Kenya’s economy.

“This money will assist the government to tackle issues that are essential for restructuring the economy,” Mr. Miyamura said. “The war on graft can only be won if the government takes thorough measures and conclusive actions to tackle existing [graft] cases strictly and rapidly.”

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