Kenya’s fight against cor­rup­tion car­tels gets US back­ing

Business Daily (Kenya) - - ECONOMY & POLITICS - Kevin J Kel­ley in New York

The United States is en­cour­aged by Kenya's ef­forts to re­duce cor­rup­tion, the top US diplo­mat for Africa has said after holding talks with Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta on Wed­nes­day.

"We dis­cussed with the Kenyan gov­ern­ment on an on­go­ing ba­sis the whole is­sue of graft and cor­rup­tion," As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Africa Ti­bor Nagy said yes­ter­day in a press brief­ing.

He pointed to "some real sig­nif­i­cant move­ment on the part of the gov­ern­ment re­cently."

Mr Nagy did not cite spe­cific ac­tions taken by Kenyan of­fi­cials.

He also did not an­swer a re­porter's ques­tion as to whether the US will seek to ex­tra­dite those Kenyans al­leged to have taken bribes from the Akasha brothers.

Bak­tash and Ibrahim Akasha, the heads of a global drug-traf­fick­ing ring, pleaded guilty re­cently in a US court to sev­eral felony charges, in­clud­ing ob­struc­tion of jus­tice in­volv­ing pay-offs to po­lice, prose­cu­tors and judges in Kenya.

Mr Nagy said he had no com­ment on the Akashas' bribery con­fes­sion, not­ing that their case is the sub­ject of "an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volv­ing mul­ti­ple US gov­ern­ment agen­cies".

The US of­fi­cial has trav­elled in re­cent days to Ethiopia, Dji­bouti and Eritrea, as well as Kenya, where he spoke to re­porters.

He ex­pressed hope that Eritrea's emer­gence from diplo­matic iso­la­tion would lead to im­proved ties with the US along with greater sta­bil­ity in the Horn of Africa, which he said can now also be re­ferred to as "the hope of Africa".

So­ma­lia is among the coun­tries in the re­gion that will ben­e­fit from an eas­ing of ten­sions in the re­gion, Mr Nagy said.

The State Depart­ment's an­nounce­ment ear­lier this week of the re-es­tab­lish­ment of a US em­bassy in Mo­gadishu is "very sig­nif­i­cant," the vet­eran Africa af­fairs of­fi­cial said.

Wash­ing­ton has not had such an in­stal­la­tion in So­ma­lia for 28 years. Putting a US am­bas­sador "on the ground" will fa­cil­i­tate bi­lat­eral re­la­tions while serv­ing as a con­crete ex­pres­sion of Wash­ing­ton's com­mit­ment to achiev­ing peace in So­ma­lia, Mr Nagy said.

Amidst crit­i­cisms of Pres­i­dent Trump's ap­par­ent in­dif­fer­ence or re­ported dis­dain for Africa, the ad­min­is­tra­tion will soon be "rolling out a for­mal Africa pol­icy," Mr Nagy said.

The US of­fi­cial has trav­elled in re­cent days to Ethiopia, Dji­bouti and Eritrea, as well as Kenya

--AFP

As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for African Af­fairs Ti­bor Nagy.

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