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Kenya’s Anti-Graft Chief Suspended

July 31, 1998

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ President Daniel arap Moi has undermined his credibility in battling rampant corruption by getting rid of the man he recently named to lead the campaign, Kenyan newspapers said Friday.

``The government has goofed once again,″ the daily Business Africa wrote of the suspension Wednesday of John Harun Mwau as head of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority.

The anti-graft unit was set up under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, which last August suspended a $220 million loan to Kenya because of the government’s failure to stem corruption.

Moi suspended Mwau after he obtained arrest warrants for four senior treasury and tax department officials and 11 lower-ranking officials. A statement from the president’s office said Moi had set up a tribunal to look into ``the proper performance″ of Mwau’s office.

Mwau accuses the officials of failing to collect $3.8 million in duties on imported wheat and sugar.

The independent Daily Nation, the largest newspaper in East Africa, said the suspension ``sends the wrong signal″ about Kenya’s seriousness in pursuing corruption.

Even the East African Standard, usually close to Moi’s ruling Kenya African National Union party, warned the government to move cautiously after having ``shot itself in the foot.″

A magistrate issued the warrants on July 16, but they were declared null and void the following day by the Attorney General’s office.

The warrants had been for Kenya Revenue Authority chief John Msafiri; Customs and Excise boss Samuel Chebii; the Finance Ministry’s director of fiscal and monetary affairs N. Njeru Kirira; and finance secretary Joseph Kinyua.

The anti-Moi weekly People newspaper saw Mwau’s suspension in a different light, saying it was connected to the power struggle over who is to succeed Moi.

Moi, 78, has yet to name a vice president following his reelection to a fifth term in December.

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