Government hints at investigating Nairobi properties of South Sudan ‘looters’

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Warring South Sudan leaders President Salva Kiir and Rebel leader Riek Machar who are reported to own lavish houses in Nairobi's Lavington Estate PHOTO COURTESY

Mombasa,KENYA: The government has hinted that investigations could be conducted on lavish properties in Nairobi owned by South Sudanese leaders who reportedly acquired them using corruption monies.

This comes just a week after the international community criticized Kenya and Uganda over not taking action against South Sudanese leaders living lavishly in the two countries at the expense of their taxpayers in the war-torn country more than two years after the reports first emerged.

Speaking in Mombasa on Wednesday, Government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe said that a process to analyze the said properties was not yet complete.

“ There is an inventory of such properties, there are issues of when it was acquired and so forth, there is a process and that process is the one that is yet to be completed. You don’t just wake up in the morning and give a report, ” Kiraithe said.

Mr Kiraithe however did not specify on whether the investigations would result in the said properties being seized as it has been recommended by the international community.

Mr. Kiraithe’s remarks come just a week after the foreign affairs principal secretary Macharia Kamau said that the country would not seize the properties.

“Kenya knows its obligations in regards to corruption and money laundering and is working closely with the international community on the same. However, we work with multilateral platforms and don’t take instructions from other sovereign states,”  Mr. Kamau was quoted by the East African newspaper.

Last week George Clooney led American organization the Sentry which is famed for exposing the faces behind war crimes in Africa in a report titled The East African leverage for peace, said that Kenya and Uganda’s inaction to questionable wealth by South Sudan leaders could not help South Sudan achieve peace.

The report further indicated that South Sudanese warring leaders were exploiting UN member states failure to implement sanctions imposed on them and the weakness of the United Nations.

“Kenyan and Ugandan Authorities could open investigations into the identified properties and reach out to US law enforcement to coordinate joint cases. Because Kenya, Uganda and the United States are signatories to the UN Convention against Corruption, the legal framework allows for the United States to file asset seizure warrants abroad if it were determined that property is eligible to be seized.” The report recommended.

The recommendations came just a few months after Australian authorities seized the property of South Sudan military general James Hoth Mbai.

In October 2016 the  Sentry revealed that the South Sudan civil war that broke out in December 2013  was as a result of competition for state resources between the warring factions of president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

The report further indicated that the two leaders had bought lavish properties in Nairobi’s Lavington estate just a stone throw away from each other while the South Sudan Peoples Liberation Army chief of general staff  Paul Malong was reported to own a house in Nairobi’s Nyari estate.

The two warring leaders are expected to meet in Addis Ababa on Wednesday for  discussion of a peace agreement being pushed by the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed.

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