Mars Group Applauds U.S. for Pressuring Kenya to Clean-Up

October 5th, 2009

A statement released by Mars Group Kenya, a Kenyan anti-corruption organization, this past week clearly shows an awareness and distaste for the role played by international financial organizations in financing corrupt regimes, as well as an appreciation for recent U.S. action to pressure Kenyan politicians to push for government reform. Pressure from the U.S. came last week in the form of 15 letters from the U.S. government to top Kenyan officials, “warning them of possible travel bans if they did not cooperate in instituting reforms.” While many government officials have come out decisively against the actions of the U.S., the Mars Group statement asserts that:

The Kibaki administration is ruffled by the United States Government latest actions on Kenya and it has nothing to do with travel bans. Money is at stake and the soft underbelly of the regime is exposed. Although it touts itself as financially self-reliant, in truth the Grant Coalition Government of Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga cannot afford to ignore the International Community and especially the United States’ stated intention of scrutinizing all loans and financial programmes for Kenya by the International Financial Institutions.

The statement continues, moving on to state that the actions of the U.S. to pressure reform within the government not only have the power to influence Kenyan politicians, but that they are also supported by the Kenyan public:

The news is encouraging, because it means that the Kenya Government cannot as it has always done in the recent past ignore the demands of Kenyans for reform and implementation of the National Accord without consequences. The picture emerging is that the Kenyan public have friends and powerful friends to boot and now the Grand Coalition Government could be facing a serious reality check. You can thumb your nose at public opinion about your economic management of public resources, but there are responsible Governments in the International Community who will have none of it.

Emphasizing this point further, the statement notes that:

The United States is certainly not acting alone. It acts with the support and gratitude of Kenyan Public. The latter is confirmed by public opinion polling by the Kenyan media. The sign of the times, if now seen for what it is should shock the Government into immediate action. The Kenyan Government as sovereign as it may claim to be, cannot do without Bretton Woods Support and the Kenyan public will refuse to be committed to pay private commercial loans to support a Government that is not accountable to its people.

This action by a non-governmental organization within Kenya demonstrates the demand that Kenyan citizens have for government accountability as well as an understanding of the ways in which the Kenyan government relies on international support in order to stay afloat. The organization has previously written letters to Kenya’s multilateral and bilateral donors. In one letter, the organization asked the IMF Board of Directors, “to consider the opinion of those Kenyans who will inevitably be taxed to repay whatever loan the Government of Kenya obtains regardless of whether or not Kenyans obtained any developmental benefit from it.”

The statement points out that the World Bank had already suspended two large projects over the course of two days. This is following Kenyan government auditors’ discovery of losses worth $1.8 million in two World Bank-funded projects. According to Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, the losses appear to be due to “fraud and corruption.” The efforts of the U.S. are echoed in Kofi Annan’s return to Kenya on Sunday, on a visit in which he is “expected to pressure Kenyan leaders to speed up the pace of reforms…”

Written by Rachel Brown

Follow @FinTrCo