Envoy Robert Godec clarifies Kenya’s arms deal with US

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By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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The US government says there is no signed agreement with Kenya for the purchase of weapons, amid claims of overpricing.

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec denied allegations of an existing deal but said the two countries are pursuing a step-by-step analysis of the weapons likely to be purchased and their cost.

“Contrary to some allegations in the media, the government of Kenya has not signed any agreement to purchase aircraft from the United States and the process under way is transparent, open, and proper.

“This potential military sale would be carried out wholly in keeping with appropriate laws and regulations,” the US envoy said in a statement on Saturday.

Last week, a US congressman tabled a motion in the Congress seeking to halt Kenya’s spending of $418 million (about Sh43 billion) on weapons purchase from a US contractor.

They include 12 converted agricultural aircrafts that are intended to bolster the Kenya Defence Forces’ campaign against Al-Shabaab.

“My office has received credible allegations of faulty contracting practices, fraud and unfair treatment surrounding this sale,” Republican Congressman Ted Budd said on Tuesday.

Mr Budd, from North Carolina, is urging his colleagues to block and investigate the deal, because he argues, the company from his home state was selling twice the actual price.

In fact the Congressman argued the contract to L-3 Communications was awarded without competitive bidding and yet the firm has no prior experience in developing such military weaponry.

As required by law, every military weapon sale must be approved by the US Congress before the deal is finalised.

This is supposed to allow the Congress oversight committees to review the deal and give a chance to competing firms to determine if the agreement is within standards.

If concluded, Kenya will buy the aircraft and receive training, spare parts, ammunition and weapons systems.

But if the claims are proven they might scuttle the purchase altogether.

Mr Godec said the US government accepts public debate on such deals because it also wants the transaction to be clean.

“The public discussion around the potential purchase of AT802-L ‘Air Tractor’ aircraft underscores the transparency and accountability of the US Government’s ‘Foreign Military Sales programme,”‘ he said.

“The Foreign Military Sales programme is one way the US Government works closely with the Kenyan government to provide a wide range of security assistance to the Kenyan military and law enforcement units.”

Kenya has agreed to pay the full cost of the deal.

The US government said it will continue to work with Kenya in the fight against Al-Shabaab.

Last year, Washington provided $150 million (Sh15 billion) worth of assistance to security agencies in the country.

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