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Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 11:10 UK

Kenyan PM welcomes ex-graft chief

John Githongo arriving at Jomo Kenyatta Airport
John Githongo had fled after receiving death threats

Kenya's prime minister has welcomed former anti-corruption chief John Githongo home after three years of self-imposed exile.

Raila Odinga held talks with the ex anti-graft investigator, who is in Kenya for a brief visit.

Mr Githongo fled to the UK saying he feared for his life, after accusing senior members of the government of "massive looting".

He is also expected to give a speech at a public anti-corruption forum.

In an interview before he left the UK, he told the BBC he was no longer afraid for his life. He said Kenya had changed significantly over the past few months.

Mr Githongo was appointed to oversee the fight against graft after President Mwai Kibaki came to power in 2002.

He exposed a scam in which state contracts worth more than $1bn (0.5bn) were secretly awarded to phantom firms.

'Fragile situation'

The BBC's Peter Greste in the capital, Nairobi, says Mr Githongo's return from exile is a sign of changing times in Kenya.

Now more than ever, these issues of transparency and accountability are going to affect the way Kenyans view their government
John Githongo

After his meeting with the prime minister, Mr Githongo said that Kenya had gone through a difficult time after the December elections.

"We have what is actually a fragile situation and corruption can upset it," he said.

"Now more than ever, these issues of transparency and accountability in the conduct of public affairs are going to affect the way Kenyans view their government and its performance and therefore will a major political impact."

Mr Odinga said that the country would like to deal with its past in a much more transparent and fair manner.

Our correspondent says corruption remains deeply embedded in the Kenyan government and public institutions.

As the government's permanent secretary for ethics and governance, Mr Githongo published documents exposing the notorious Anglo-Leasing scandal, which forced the resignation of several ministers.

Kenyans will see Mr Githongo's return as a sign that perhaps corruption can be beaten after all, our reporter says.

Earlier this year, the government and the opposition formed a grand coalition after post-election violence threatened to tear the country apart.

Mr Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka both asked Mr Githongo to return.

Mr Githongo says this is more of a private visit to meet his family and re-connect with the people of Kenya.


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Githongo on Kenya violence
23 Jan 08 |  Africa
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18 Apr 08 |  Country profiles


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