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Why Is the Kenyan Government Determined to Hide Its Chinese Loan Contracts?

Kenya's Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki is fighting moves by activists to make public the government's loan contracts with China for the Standard Gauge Railway. Simon MAINA / AFP

A growing number of Kenyans are becoming increasingly incensed with Attorney General (AG) Kihara Kariuki for his determination to challenge activists’ demands in court for disclosure of the $3.2 billion Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) contract with China. The move didn’t go down well with many people who felt betrayed and wondered why the government’s top lawyer is so determined to keep this information locked up and he is acting in violation of the same constitution that he’s supposed to uphold.

The Kenyan constitution under article 227(1) and the public procurement and disposal act 2015 stipulates that public projects must be made public and requires public participation in the process. The president seemed to agree with this position in 2019 when he promised to make the contract public, only to make a u-turn and go numb on it. Last week’s events suggest that he might have had a session with the AG.

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