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US Wants Cotu Links With State Severed

By Emman Omari, The Nation Nairobi, 3 November 2000

Nairobi - The United States government has asked Kenya to delink the Central Organisation of Trade Unions from the government. Assistant minister for Tourism, Trade and Industry Albert Ekirapa told Parliament that this is one of the conditions for Kenya to be included on the list of countries to benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which was passed by the US Congress recently.

The minister, who was replying to a question by Webuye MP Musikari Kombo (Ford-K) said that except for a few issues related to the trade union movement, Kenya has qualified for inclusion to the Act.

Mr. Ekirapa said that the US was concerned that the president still appoints the three top officials of Cotu after elections, and this must be done away with. He added that the US also raised concerns about child labour in the coffee and tea sectors.

MPs challenged the minister on the question of fulfilling all conditions, citing corruption as a major impediment. Mr. Kombo said that the government had not demonstrated a commitment to eradicate corruption.

Those charged with corruption still held government posts, he added. The minister said he was replying to an economic question rather than a political one.

Mr. Ekirapa told the House that Kenya has submitted a list of export products to the US for consideration under the General System of Preferences scheme. He said the government had also complied with textile transshipment rules, gazetted last month, and was awaiting certification to begin textile exports to the US.

Meanwhile, a Minister of State in the Office of the President, Marsden Madoka agreed with MPs that the government should introduce a legislation to outlaw "poisonous" Power Alcohol.

Mr. Madoka also agreed that the government should consider withdrawing licences of bar owners selling Power Alcohol.

The minister was replying to a question by the MP for Ndaragwa, Thirikwa Kamau (DP) who wanted to know what action the minister was taking, especially in Central province.

Kangema MP John Michuki (Ford-P) proposed that a law be introduced to ban the brew, while Mathira MP Matu Wamae (DP) and Kamukunji MP Norman Nyagah (DP) suggested that licences of bar owners be withdrawn.

The minister said that he was working closely with the Ministry of Public Health to ensure that Power Alcohol is eradicated.

Replying to another question by Malava MP Soita Shitanda (Ford-K), the minister said Lawrence Nasongo was dismissed from the police force on disciplinary grounds.

Mr. Madoka said that the officer also failed to appeal within seven days as required by Force Standing Orders.

An assistant minister for Local Government Musa Sirma told the House that Migori County Council received Sh7.1 million as collections from sugar cane and tobacco farmers in the last financial year.

Mr. Sirma, who was replying to a question by Migori MP Owino Achola (NDP) said the council utilised the money to meet its recurrent expenditure.

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