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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 23:19 GMT 00:19 UK
Kenya 'close to anti-corruption group'
By James Whittington
BBC World Service business reporter

President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya
President Kibaki's government has been dogged by corruption claims
The head of the leading anti-corruption group, Transparency International (TI), has admitted that he and representatives in Kenya are too close to the government of President Mwai Kibaki.

The comments by the founder and chairman of the anti-corruption group, Peter Eigen, come as the yearly survey of global corruption by TI is published.

Kenya is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Along with Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo it is joint 144th of 158 nations in TI's latest Corruption Perception Index.

'Like gluttons'

"We lost credibility because of our close friendship with the people around President Kibaki and that went so far that it became difficult for us to speak up about things that we didn't like," Peter Eigen told the BBC's World Business Report.

President Mwai Kibaki was elected at the end of 2002 on an anti-corruption ticket ending 24 years of rule by Daniel Arap Moi.

BEST AND WORST
5 least corrupt states:
Iceland
Finland
New Zealand
Denmark
Singapore
5 most corrupt states:
Chad
Bangladesh
Turkmenistan
Burma
Haiti
Source: Transparency International

Peter Eigen told the BBC: "Our representatives are automatically very close to the new Government. When President Moi was voted out of office, we were all delighted. We were perhaps blind to the fact that our team was too close to the Kibaki Government".

Allegations of corruption within Kenya's new Government began to circulate within weeks of President Kibaki taking office, despite his election pledges.

Last year, the UK high commissioner to Kenya launched a scathing attack on its failure to tackle the problem. Edward Clay said that corruption had cost Kenya hundreds of millions of dollars since Mr Kibaki took office in December 2002.

He said corrupt ministers were "eating like gluttons" and "vomiting on the shoes" of donors.

Further problems came this year.

'Alarm signal'

In February, John Githongo, a former head of TI in Kenya who became the government's anti-corruption Czar fled the country for fear of his life.

A few months later his successor at TI says she was forced from her job for being too critical of the government.

Former Kenya President Daniel Arap Moi
Kenya's new leader vowed to clean up after predecessor Daniel Moi

Gladwell Otieno the former Executive Director of TI in Nairobi told the BBC's World Business Report that she was forced to resign in April by the country's board, led by Chairman Joe Wangui, who, she says, is a close associate of President Mwai Kibaki and his government. The reason, she says was her criticism of corruption in Kenya.

"It does tend to cast a shadow over the credibility of Transparency International at a very important moment in the history of this country, and it tends to play into the hands of those who have no interest in pushing forward the anti-corruption agenda," she said from her home in Nairobi.

"Regrettably, if there is not a decisive move to restore the credibility of TI then unfortunately all the undoubtedly good work which is done by TI will be overshadowed by these sort of incidents".

Peter Eigen said that TI was still looking at what to do about the Kenyan Chapter and he hoped to have a solution soon.

"This should be in the future an alarm signal to us as a movement that we should make sure in a situation like that safeguards are taken that a Chapter retains its objectivity. Because otherwise it is a useless arm of the Government and doesn't help in the fight against corruption," he said.


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