Kenyan Minister quits over embassy saga

October 27, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 27 – Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula has yielded to public pressure and stepped aside from office to pave way for investigations into allegations of corruption over procurement and disposals of Kenyan embassies abroad.

Mr Wetangula told a press conference shortly after 3pm on Wednesday that he took the decision to allow a credible probe in the matter but he insisted he was “innocent of the allegations of corruption.”

“I have made a personal decision to step aside as Minister for Foreign Affairs to give room and pleasure to those who have been haunting and tormenting me.  I have played no role in formulation, execution or in any manner in the transaction that has been mentioned.”

Three hours earlier, President Mwai Kibaki had accepted a request by Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi to step aside to allow investigations into the Sh1.1 billion scandal.

“I have decided to voluntarily step aside in order to allow the competent government organs to fully and without impediment investigate all matters of concern raised in the Report of the Departmental Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations on construction, purchase and disposal of properties abroad,” said Mr Mwangi in his resignation statement.

He added: “I have consciously taken this decision as an expression of my confidence that at the conclusion of the on-going investigations by the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission, the appropriateness of my engagement with all aspects of the operations pertaining to this matter will undoubtedly be established."

The report by the Defence and Foreign Relations committee called for the resignation of the two senior diplomats to allow investigations into the alleged scam, in which the committee concluded “the public did not get value for money.”

“If you read that report there is nowhere they have said the Minister did this or that or received any amount of money,” asserted Mr Wetangula.

The scandal involves missions in Cairo, Tokyo, Abuja, Lagos, Brussels and Islamabad.

“I know my innocence is guaranteed because I have not acted contrary to the laws,” maintained Mr Wetangula.

The Minister said his colleagues had misrepresented the facts about the deals and dragged his name into the scandal. He dismissed calls for him to take political responsibility over the matter as the Minister saying the deals were initiated before his appointment.

“Political responsibility does not mean that when you are a politician you carry the crimes of another person or a group if it has been committed unless there is proof that you acted in unison

In Parliament, Kimilili MP Esieli Simiyu withdrew a proposed amendment to the report that sought to expunge the name of the Minister. Mr Wetangula had exonerated himself arguing that he has no executive authority over the transactions, a move that was seen to place blame squarely on the Permanent Secretary and other senior officials.

“Owing to the development, I withdraw the amendment since it might do more harm than good,” said Dr Esieli.

In allowing debate to continue, Speaker Kenneth Marende advised members to be conscious of the developments.

“Members should be awake to the fact that it might negate the rules of natural justice and may be prejudicial for debate to continue in a manner that may touch on their personal conduct. Be conscious that there persons have complied with the recommendation of the committee so do not dwell on their conduct.”

MPs went ahead to finalise debate on the Motion, with many commending the PS and Minister for the bold action they took.

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