Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Major Aid Donors Target Kenya for Violations of Human Rights

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Major Aid Donors Target Kenya for Violations of Human Rights

Article excerpt

THE money will go first to African nations adopting democratic reforms.

That is the message flashing across Africa from Western donors meeting in Paris Nov. 25 and 26. After more than a year of threatening to link aid to democracy, major donors have decided to draw the line.

They have drawn the line across Kenya, a one-party state whose president, Daniel arap Moi, is one of a declining number of African leaders still resisting multiparty elections.

At the Paris meeting, a number of donors refused to pledge more money for Kenya pending political and economic reforms, said an official attending the sessions.

The United States is putting a hold on roughly half of its economic aid to Kenya pending more economic reforms, a US official said. But, he added, "we linked our aid to economic performance and {made} general statements about the political issues. This is not business as usual."

A World Bank official at the meeting said donors are saying "there is a strong connection between the government {of Kenya's} economic management and political participation. The two go together."

Kenyan police arrested the leaders of a Nov. 16 pro-multiparty election rally and used tear gas and clubs on Kenyans trying to attend the demonstration. President Moi, though saying he agrees to multiparty elections in two to three years, still calls those seeking change "anarchists."

Donors have been equally concerned about reports of high-level corruption and last year's murder of Kenyan Foreign Minister Robert Ouko.

In testimony on Nov. 18 at a public inquiry in Kenya, a now-retired Scotland Yard detective, John Troon, said Ouko had been murdered, probably to prevent him from finishing a report on alleged corruption by former Energy Minister Nicholas Biwott.

Mr. Troon named Mr. Biwott and Kenya's former internal security chief, Hezekiah Oyugi, as prime suspects in the murder. There were unconfirmed reports Nov. 26 that Mr. Biwott, Mr. Oyugi, and several other Kenyans were arrested just after the government disbanded the inquiry commission.

International donors' new pro-democracy approach, if it lasts and if it is applied to other African states resisting democratic reforms, could have profound effects across the continent. Most African nations, including Kenya, depend heavily on outside aid.

Donors' resolve to take action also comes as world demands for foreign aid are rising.

"The competition has increased for the pot of funds," says Scott Spangler, assistant administrator for Africa for the US Agency for International Development. Mr. Spangler cited the newly independent Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and the possible appearance of new states in the former Soviet Union. Eastern Europe is also vying for aid.

Spangler notes that many donor nations are experiencing economic downturns and that in the US some politicians are calling for more attention to domestic issues and less spending abroad. …

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