22 May 2019

Kenya: Chinese Ambassador Explains Why SGR Contract Is Still 'Top Secret'

President Uhuru Kenyatta had in December 2018 promised to make the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) contract public. Five months later, Kenyans are still waiting.

But on Tuesday the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng explained why the contract has been kept secret from the public eye.

The ambassador revealed that China could not disclose the details of the contract because of the country's commercial interest clause which was protected by the rule of law.

"I cannot say we agree or disagree with disclosure. I do not speak on behalf of Kenya. Obstacle to disclosing contract is commercial interest protected by rule of law which should be respected," he said.

COMPROMISE SECURITY

According to Lawyer Apollo Mboya, there are clauses, that can limit them from having some details of contracts availed to the public. These laws vary from country to country.

"You can only talk about that if you have seen that clause if they are saying that there is a clause that prevents them and Kenya entered into that. You cannot see certain contracts like military because if you see those ones, it can compromise the security of the state. So it depends on which contract," he stated.

The ambassador also clarified on the issue of Kenyan assets been used as collateral if Kenyan fails to repay the loan.

"I can assure you that any loan agreement between china and Kenya are in line with common international practice. None of Kenya's national assets has been mortgaged for the SGR loan and neither can any of Kenya's assets be seized by the Chinese. I discussed these issues with my colleagues in Beijing and with the banks," he said.

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