Topical debates — Kenya

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 1:14 pm on 17th January 2008.

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Photo of Meg Munn Meg Munn Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 1:14 pm, 17th January 2008

We have considered carefully for some time the long-term issue of corruption. For that reason, we try to ensure that our aid is delivered through organisations that are not part of the Kenyan Government. We continue to support all efforts to tackle corruption, as we have done for many years. On the subject of the current situation, the UK and the EU are considering whether they should stop the aid that they provide because of corruption. We need to look at the right way to ensure that humanitarian relief reaches Kenya.

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the safe delivery of aid poses considerable difficulties. All the aid agencies do the best that they can to ensure that help gets to those who need it, particularly when the social situation deteriorates because of the political situation. He is right to be concerned about the plight of ordinary people and the humanitarian crisis, but we also know that the resolution of the political situation and a move towards an agreed solution will help the humanitarian situation. That is why I have placed such emphasis on talking about all the issues, in particular ethnically motivated violence, which is a cause for great concern. Kenya had turned from such violence and its re-emergence poses a risk. The sooner that we have an agreed mediation process and move forward on the subject of constitutional and electoral reform, the better it will be for the humanitarian situation described by the hon. Gentleman.

In the longer term, we have to see institutional reform because that will reduce the risks of the events of late December being repeated. Sufficient checks should be put in place to allow Kenyan people to restore their faith in democracy and their trust in the electoral system. We hope that the panel will help Kenya's leaders to examine how the crucial elements of constitutional reform can be fast-tracked. Changes that spread executive power and patronage more widely could reduce the winner-takes-all nature of the presidential election. They would reduce the temptations to cheat or resort to violence.

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