, NAIROBI, Oct 28 – The Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti has been appointed to act in the Foreign Affairs portfolio following Wednesday’s move by Moses Wetangula who stepped aside to pave for investigations over procurements and disposals of Kenyan embassies abroad.
A dispatch from State House said Prof Saitoti will continue to hold his position at the Internal Security Ministry.
“Following consultations with the Right Hon. Prime Minister Raila Odinga, His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki has today [Thursday] appointed Prof. George Saitoti as the acting Minister for Foreign Affairs,” the brief statement from State House said.
The appointment followed Wednesday’s stepping aside of Mr Wetangula who threw in the towel after sustained pressure from fellow Members of Parliament and civil society organisations.
The Minister told a press conference he was innocent and was optimistic of returning back to the Cabinet once cleared by investigating arms of government.
“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,” Mr Wetangula said in what went down as one of the most emotitional speeches he has ever made.
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 that has rocked the ministry.
“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 Defense 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.”
On his part Mr Wetangula said: “If you read that report there is nowhere they have said the Minister did this or that or received any amount of money.”
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.”