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Economy

Kenya’s fight against corruption cartels gets US backing

Assistant Secretary of State for African
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy. AFP PHOTO  

The United States is encouraged by Kenya's efforts to reduce corruption, the top US diplomat for Africa has said after holding talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday.

"We discussed with the Kenyan government on an ongoing basis the whole issue of graft and corruption," Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Tibor Nagy said yesterday in a press briefing.

He pointed to "some real significant movement on the part of the government recently."

Mr Nagy did not cite specific actions taken by Kenyan officials.

He also did not answer a reporter's question as to whether the US will seek to extradite those Kenyans alleged to have taken bribes from the Akasha brothers.

Baktash and Ibrahim Akasha, the heads of a global drug-trafficking ring, pleaded guilty recently in a US court to several felony charges, including obstruction of justice involving pay-offs to police, prosecutors and judges in Kenya.

Mr Nagy said he had no comment on the Akashas' bribery confession, noting that their case is the subject of "an ongoing investigation involving multiple US government agencies".

The US official has travelled in recent days to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea, as well as Kenya, where he spoke to reporters.

He expressed hope that Eritrea's emergence from diplomatic isolation would lead to improved ties with the US along with greater stability in the Horn of Africa, which he said can now also be referred to as "the hope of Africa".

Somalia is among the countries in the region that will benefit from an easing of tensions in the region, Mr Nagy said.

The State Department's announcement earlier this week of the re-establishment of a US embassy in Mogadishu is "very significant," the veteran Africa affairs official said.

Washington has not had such an installation in Somalia for 28 years. Putting a US ambassador "on the ground" will facilitate bilateral relations while serving as a concrete expression of Washington's commitment to achieving peace in Somalia, Mr Nagy said.

Amidst criticisms of President Trump's apparent indifference or reported disdain for Africa, the administration will soon be "rolling out a formal Africa policy," Mr Nagy said.

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