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Last Updated: Friday, 4 February, 2005, 12:50 GMT
Kenyan press backs UK envoy on graft
Edward Clay
Sir Edward's remarks have caused a stir

Independent papers in Kenya have gone on an anti-corruption crusade, following remarks by British High Commissioner Sir Edward Clay accusing the government of "looting". Ministers reacted angrily, saying the government does not need to take advice from foreigners and is in any case tackling the problem.

"Agree with Clay or not but doesn't he have a point?" is the headline in the independent Standard.

The paper says the Briton has emerged as the most vocal critic of the ruling coalition and declares its solidarity.

"We wish to focus attention on corruption," it says, adding that while the government has itself declared a "zero tolerance" approach, this has clearly not come about.

Sir Edward's challenge is taken up by a commentary in the same paper.

"The institutions that should be looking for corruption and exposing it have gone to sleep," says Kwamchetsi Makokha.

"For too long, Kenyans have been passive onlookers as the biggest rip-offs, abuse of rights, manipulation of law and other monstrosities are committed."

In the long run, what's at stake is the very survival of Kenya as a state, and the existence of Kenyans as free and sovereign citizens
The Nation

The commentary adds that every Kenyan should be mortified that it took the "patriotism of Sir Edward" to highlight the problem.

Another paper, the top-selling independent Nation, has an editorial demanding: "We want our country back!"

"In the long run, what's at stake is the very survival of Kenya as a state, and the existence of Kenyans as free and sovereign citizens," it says.

Tribal tensions

A commentary in the Nation argues that all the government's "cries of foul" amount to nothing, if it fails to respond to the charges.

"So, let's put aside all that self-righteous grandstanding and face up to what the man has to say," Lucy Orian'g recommends.

After all, she adds, an increasingly restless populace is beginning to show signs of stress.

"Tribal tensions are back... when we thought them dead and buried with the Kanu regime. The streets and villages are teeming with young people with nothing to do."

The Times, published by the former ruling Kanu party, in clear on where it puts the blame: on the president's "stony silence".

He is a liar of the highest order who is beyond reform
Foreign Minister in The People

"This country has grown weary of waiting for the Kibaki government to deliver anything," the paper says.

"It is an understatement to suggest that Kibaki's is a lame duck presidency."

The government view in turn is reflected in The People.

The paper quotes Foreign Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere as saying there was no corruption of the magnitude implied by the British envoy.

"He is a liar of the highest order who is beyond reform. He is a congenital liar," said Mr Mwakwere, according to the paper.

"He was talking nonsense... I think he had taken one too many."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

Profile: Edward Clay
17 Jul 04 |  Africa
UK Kenya envoy 'regrets insult'
15 Jul 04 |  Africa

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