“Revolt Cuts Short Gaddafi’s Economic March Into Kenya”, Business Daily:
It is not clear what will be the fate of the agreement that Kenya signed with the Libyan Government.
The most significant for the business community was the trade agreement in which Libya and Kenya agreed to grant each other most favoured nation treatment in all matters relating to customs duties.
The foray into Libya came shortly after the Narc party victory when Mr Kibaki’s nephew, the late Alex Mureithi, visited Tripoli in mid 2003 as a special envoy.
While details of this visit and its implications on future Kenya-Libya relations are hazy, it telling that Mureithi, who was to become the Managing Director of Tana and Athi Development Authority, was a confidant of Mr Kibaki —who said as much at his funeral in Nyahururu.
The Libyans, or rather the Gaddafi network, had lofty dreams on Kenya since it was the largest economy in the eastern Africa region.
Initially, the Libyan African Arab Investment Company had shown interest in setting up a 5-6 Star hotel in Nairobi, but the Grand Regency sale came at the appropriate time, sparking a national row on how the Libyans bought the hotel.
The Governor of the Central Bank, Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, was to tell a commission that was investigating the sale that the government offered the hotel to the Libyans without tendering.
Grand Regency was a public property and its sale should not have been shrouded in any secrecy whatever value it was given. But it was.
A conference centre in Mombasa that was also in the pipeline never materialised as the Libyans were caught in the Grand Regency pricing row that saw then Finance Minister Amos Kimunya step aside.
It was the cultural cooperation that was pushed by Gaddafi that has seen some “elders” led by Kamlesh Pattni visit Libya.
Before the revolts across the Arab countries, Kenya and Libya’s diplomatic manoeuvring was in full swing, with Kibaki sending vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka to go and lobby Tripoli to support Kenya’s efforts at the African Union (AU) to defer the post-election trials at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Of course it was widely rumored that the concessional sale of the Grand Regency Hotel by the Government of Kenya was part of the financing for the Kibaki re-election campaign. I have nothing independent to contribute on whether or not this is true, but would simply note the lack of other explanations of various facets of the transaction and lack of thorough investigation and or prosecution of anyone involved.
For an overview of perceptions of Gaddafi in other African capitals, see “Qaddafi’s Tangled Legacy in Africa” at the CSIS Online Africa Policy Forum blog.
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