Was it a case of colonial ties or plain kith and kin favouritism? Either way, the French do not want to know. They are furious that the Kenyan government cancelled an offer made to Renault, the French motor manufacturer, to supply military vehicles to the Kenyan Armed Forces, and gave the order instead to Bedford, the British manufacturer, and Mercedes Benz, the German auto maker.
The French are angry because they think the former head of the Kenyan civil service and secretary to the cabinet, Richard Leakey, unduly used his influence to give the contract to Bedford.
At the time of writing, Leakey was in court in connection with another case in which he is accused of abuse of office after he was alleged to have written to the attorney general, Amos Wako, asking him to block a case in which a family had sued the defunct ABM Amro Bank for fraud.
Highly-placed sources close to the tendering for the KShs 1.5 billion supply of military vehicles, say influence peddling by senior officials was largely responsible for the cancellation of the Renault deal. The tendering thereafter favoured the British and German suppliers.
It is understood that Renault is seeking legal redress, arguing that its competitors were favoured without merit or justification.
It is said that just before Leakey lost his government appointment last year, he declined to meet aggrieved officials from Renault for discussion over his intervention into the Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV) project.
Insiders say the cancellation of the Renault deal was not based on commercial considerations since the trucks supplied by its competitors for the trial-run, were inferior to Renault's. They were also not in accordance with the required tender specifications, and taken as a whole, at least KShs800m more expensive than Renault's.
The sources said Renault had asked the French embassy in Nairobi to pursue the matter through the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When contacted, a foreign affairs spokesman confirmed that the embassy had launched its protest but the matter was being handled by the Office of the President under which the Department of Defence falls. The president's office, however, declined to comment on the French complaint. Not would it say anything about the circumstances surrounding Leakey's intervention.
According to the French, Leakey wrestled the tender from Renault in full breach of all established rules that guide government tender procedures, although the Department of...