NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6 – The war on graft in Kenya has caught the attention of the United States, which says the country has made significant strides to slay the menace.
Visiting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs Tibor Nagy says the current efforts are key to the development of the country and even engagement between the two states.
He was speaking on Thursday during a telephonic press briefing where he assured of the United States government support of the current efforts to stop the looting of public resources.
“The whole issue of graft is of key importance to the United States and it is of key importance to your President’s administration, both sides are taking a very active and a dynamic approach,” he asserted.
“There has been real, significant movement on the part of government recently and we will very much look forward on the future as we go forward into political progression and good governance.”
Kenyans have witnessed hundreds of arrests targeting senior government officials. For instance, the arrest and subsequent trial of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu who is facing graft charges.
On Thursday, a five-judge bench of the High Court hearing Mwilu’s petition seeking to stop criminal proceedings against her adjourned to January 17 when it will determine preliminary objections raised by parties to the suit.
Justices Hellen Omondi, Mumbi Ngugi, William Musyoka, Francis Tuiyot and Chacha Mwita gave the parties fourteen days to file submissions with a similar timeline set for filing of responses.
Already, the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Hajji has appointed Queen’s Counsel Khawar Qureshi as the lead counsel in the case, a move that has been challenged.
– US role in restoring peace in Somalia –
On the war against Somalia based Al-Shabaab militants, he says the US will continue facilitating support to Kenyan and regional forces, in trying to restore stability in the war-torn country.
This, he said, will include capacity building through training among other measures.
Kenya has paid heavily for the war in Somalia through losing security forces and hundreds of civilians to terror attacks.
“We certainly recognise and thanks Kenya for its energetic combating of Al-Shabaab and we also recognize the sacrifices Kenyan people have had to make because of their courageous battle,” he said.
“The United States will continue to pursue trying to bring peace and stability to Somalia with our regional allies.”
He said the US government will also help in strengthening the Somali National Army so that they can be able to deal with the threat of terror internally.
He, however, insisted that the Somalia Government must be supported so that it can provide services including job opportunities to her people in a bid to avoid leaving a “vacuum.”
The United States now has an Ambassador in Mogadishu, a move that is set to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, he says.
Ambassador Donald Yukio Yamamoto was formerly the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs before his appointment to Mogadishu.
“The ambassador will be engaging directly with the Somali Government on daily basis instead of what we have been doing before-sending personnel temporarily and sending them back to Nairobi,” he said.
– Nagy’s top priorities during continent’s visit –
In his statement, Nagy says his number one priority in Africa is “to promote stronger trade and commercial ties between the United States and Africa by creating a level playing field across African markets for all companies, regardless of where they come from.”
“This means placing an emphasis on rule of law, transparency, recourse for investors, and fighting corruption.”
He also seeks to harness the potential of Africa’s youth as a force for economic ingenuity and prosperity.
The other one will be advancing peace and security through partnerships with African governments and regional mechanisms.
He noted that the transnational challenges of terrorism and extremism in the Sahel, Northern Nigeria, Somalia, and now in Central Africa, and the rise of Boko Harem, Al Qaeda in the Magreb, ISIS West Africa, and Al Shabaab, require new, determined regional approaches to counteract these groups.
This, he added, includes “better-trained and paid African security and law enforcement.”