Kenya: EU Freezes Aid Over Post-Poll Stalemate
Business Daily (Nairobi)
17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008
Allan Odhiambo And Agencies
The European Parliament yesterday voted for a freeze of all budgetary support to Kenya until a political settlement to the disputed re-election of President Kibaki is found.
The decision made at a parliamentary session in Strasburg is the first such action taken by the country’s development partners since Mr Kibaki was declared the winner of the December 27 election, which the opposition claims was rigged in his favour.
“The European Parliament asks for the freezing of all budgetary support to the Government until a political solution to the crisis is found,” the deputies said in a resolution.
If effected, this resolution could put at risk a number of infrastructure, energy and water projects that have been the major beneficiaries of EU financing over the past five years.
Though its support to Kenya is small compared to other African countries, the EU remains one of Nairobi’s top donors. Since 2002, the European Union has financed the government budget to the tune of Sh28.4 billion.
Besides, it had earmarked Sh37.5 billion for infrastructure, energy and water projects between 2008 and 2013. Yesterday, EU parliamentarians condemned the violence and maintained that the result of the election was not credible. They called for a fresh vote “if a fair recount is not possible.”
Through the resolution, the MPs said they were “deeply concerned by the social repercussions of the crisis, its detrimental effect on the country’s socio-economic development and the economic consequences for neighbouring countries.”
They criticised the EU executive for disbursing Sh3.9 billion in budgetary support to Kenya on December 28 – a day after the controversial elections.
But in what could sound a temporary reprieve for Kenya, EU Aid and Development Commissioner Louis Michel said it would go with the parliamentary resolution but explained that the December 28 disbursement was made before doubts over the results emerged.
The Head of EU delegation in Kenya, Mr Eric van der Linden, said that although he fully agreed with legislators’ analysis, his office may delay effecting it on humanitarian grounds. “The crisis is having a bad effect on the Kenyan people and our priority is to improve the humanitarian conditions,” he said.
His comments came barely two days after the European Commission earmarked about Sh550 million in humanitarian aid for victims of post-election violence in Kenya with indications that the funds would go to meeting the basic needs of the displaced.
While announcing the move, Mr Michel expressed concern over the plight of people driven from their homes in recent weeks.
“More than a quarter of a million people are displaced and a similar number living a precarious existence in the shanty towns, have been badly affected. We urge all the parties to stop immediately the violence and to engage immediately and seriously in talks with a view to find a political solution.”
The funds, channelled through the Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO), will target key essentials for displaced people and refugees including tents, clean water, sanitation, emergency health care, basic household equipment, hygiene products, food and logistics.