, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 20 – A number of politicians have welcomed Tuesday’s decision by President Mwai Kibaki and Premier Raila Odinga to suspend Cabinet minister William Ruto over corruption allegations and advised him to clear his name through proper channels.
Education Assistant Minister Ayiecho Olweny said the former Minister should not think of his suspension over the multi million shillings fraud case as victimisation saying the initial political approach had caused the delay in conclusion of the case.
“It was started (the case) way back in 2003 and unfortunately I can tell you, we are some of the people who went to court to yell at the top of our voices that it was unfair. Our team went, Raila’s (Prime Minister) supporters,” said the Assistant Minister.
“We took people to the court when this case was brought against (Mr) Ruto and we yelled but that was politics and I think it was one of the things which made that case take that long but let them hurry it up now,” he stated.
He added that if the suspended minister was found innocent in the case he should be reinstated but if found guilty then the law should take its course.
Cabinet Ministers Beth Mugo, William ole Ntimama and Njeru Githae welcomed the Presidents move and said it was in accordance with the law.
“There is a new Constitution now but I am sure things will go through the due process and the decision (on whether to reinstate or dismiss Ruto) will come later,” said Public Health Minister Beth Mugo.
“I don’t want to talk about Ruto. The Constitution says any public official accused of corruption should be suspended,” National Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama commented.
Nairobi Metropolitan Minister Njeru Githae added: “I don’t really think the President had a choice in this matter. This Parliament was elected under the old Constitution where the threshold of the integrity of public servants was not so high but with the new Constitution it is very high.”
A statement from the President’s Press Service late on Tuesday said the action was taken following consultations between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
“His Excellency the President has stood aside William Ruto from Office of Minister with immediate effect pending conclusion of the Nairobi Chief Magistrates Case No. 973 of 2004 as allowed by the Nairobi High Court Suit No. 1192/2005 (0S),” the statement read.
Livestock Assistant Minister Aden Duale however said that while the two principals were acting within the law by asking the Eldoret North MP to pave way for investigations, they should get rid of all the corrupt ministers in the Cabinet.
“It’s not only Ruto who’s corrupt, there are many other corrupt people in Cabinet and we are saying that the President should not stop at that. I commend the President but I think the culture of impunity must stop,” he told reporters after the Mashujaa Day celebrations.
And speaking separately, Kisumu Town West MP Olago Aluoch and his Kisumu Town East counterpart Shakeel Shabbir said the suspension of the minister is a sure sign that the two principals were set to embrace the demands of the new law with zero tolerance to corruption.
Their views were further reinforced by Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua who emphasised that the action sends a clear message that impunity will not be tolerated and everybody is expected to obey the law.
While he declined to speculate on whether more heads are going to roll, Dr Mutua said any state officer who has no integrity can expect to be dismissed from work until they are cleared.
“We are in a new era where impunity cannot be excused. Every law of the land must be obeyed,” he stated.
Section 62 of the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act stipulates that a public officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended with half pay with effect from the date of the charge.