US praises Kenyan govt for 'real movement' against graft

Wednesday March 18 2020


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

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


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

He, however, did not cite specific actions taken by Kenyan officials.


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

Assistant Secretary 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".

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.

Kirsten Madison, the Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, earlier decried lack of accountability for corrupt activities within Kenya's criminal justice system.

She spoke in general terms regarding US efforts to help fight corruption in Kenya, which, she said, greatly impedes the fight against drug trafficking.


Mr Nagy has travelled in recent days to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea, as well as Kenya, where he spoke to reporters on Thursday.

He expressed hope that Eritrea's emergence from diplomatic isolation will 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 noted.

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

It will focus on efforts to promote direct US private investment, he indicated.

Mr Nagy drew a contrast between foreign direct investment and donor assistance.

The latter, he said, is insufficient to achieve the actual development of the recipient country.

Corporate investment, on the other hand, has the potential to spur movement toward fully developed status, rather than leaving countries as "eternally developing."