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US ‘stonewalling’ on Sh42bn military aircraft sale deal

Friday April 14 2017

An Air Tractor AT- 802L aircraft. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

An Air Tractor AT- 802L aircraft. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KEVIN J. KELLEY
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NEW YORK

The American government is “stonewalling” on the details of a proposed multibillion-shilling arms sale to Kenya, a congressional critic of the deal charged.

“On March 30, I asked for the offer the United States government had made to the Kenyan Ministry of Defence, just so we could make sure that everything was above board,” Congressman Ted Budd said in a statement. “That was 12 days ago.

“It’s baffling to me why it would take so long to send an email. The stonewalling here from the US government is concerning,” he said on Wednesday.

The US Air Force wrote to Kenyan officials on March 29 specifying the terms of an agreement whereby New York-based L3 Technologies would sell Kenya a fleet of crop duster aircraft equipped for combat missions against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

It is that letter, which the US is withholding from Mr Budd as well as from the Nation, which also requested for it.

An outline of the deal approved earlier this year by Congress and the US State Department indicated that L3 would sell Kenya a dozen planes and two trainer aircraft and related components and services for $418 million (Sh41.8 billion).

The Kenyan government would finance the transaction and there is no deadline for Kenya to accept, reject or seek changes in the L3 proposal.

Sources say L3 might have modified the terms in response to Mr Budd’s dogged criticism of the deal over the past three months.

The price of the proposed sale may have been reduced and/or additional items put on offer.

The Republican lawmaker says a firm in his home state of North Carolina can supply the same for only $237 million (Sh23.7 billion).