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 Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 16:13 GMT
Kenya election payments row
Mwai Kibaki (center) waves to supporters
Kibaki has a good chance of being Kenya's next leader

The presidential candidate of the leading opposing grouping in next week's general elections in Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, has accused the government of making suspicious payments to some contractors.

It is looting, taxpayers' money.

Mwai Kibaki
Mr Kibaki, who was speaking for the first time since a car accident earlier this month in which he was slightly injured, said that if he was elected, his government would not pay the debts of the present regime.

Mr Kibaki also condemned the appointment of a committee by the government to oversee the handover of power after the 27 December elections.

The 71-year-old candidate of a coalition of 13 opposition parties known as the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) is considered by many to be a slight favourite in the polls against the ruling party's Uhuru Kenyatta.

'Illegal'

At a press conference held at his Nairobi home, Mwai Kibaki accused Mr Moi's government of paying out billions of Kenya shillings to suspicious contractors after sensing defeat in next week's elections.

"These contracts - many of them contractors in construction, road construction and other constructions - to supply the government with things that they never did supply... they are being paid illegally.

"It is looting taxpayers' money."

Uhuru Kenyatta
Kenyatta is seeking to continue the ruling party's reign

Only yesterday the governor of the Central Bank, Nahashon Nyagah, admitted that 4.5bn shillings (about $56m) had been released in special bonds.

He conceded that some of the questionable bills were more than 10 years old but argued that the action taken by the government was legal and usual.

The Narc presidential hopeful thinks otherwise.

"That, we will leave to Kenyans to judge. But what I can say, as a successor to this particular government, we will not honour these quickly-arranged contracts to repay debts which have not been approved.

"We shall not be called upon to honour them. No government in the world should be treated that way."

Handover

Mr Kibaki also condemned the creation of a committee set up to oversee the handover of power.

In a recent speech, incumbent President Daniel arap Moi promised that he would hand over power to whoever wins the poll.

"When a party loses an election, it does not hang around, checking what is happening. Having lost the election, you go home. People have decided," he said.

President Moi in Nairobi
Moi will step down on 5 January

Attorney General Amos Wako has appointed a committee, including himself, to oversee the hand over of power.

The other two members are the Chief Justice, Bernard Chunga, and the secretary to the cabinet, Sally Kosgey.

Narc officials have complained that the three officials are President Moi's appointees and are bound to favour his Kanu party.

Mr Kibaki warned that his government will investigate all suspicious payments if it takes over power.

Kenyans choose a new president

Key stories

Inauguration day

Moi steps down

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See also:

17 Dec 02 | Africa
13 Dec 02 | Media reports
05 Dec 02 | Africa
12 Nov 02 | Africa
25 Oct 02 | Africa
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