, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 24 – Trade Assistant Minister Harun Mwau has stepped aside to pave way for a probe on drug trafficking claims.
Mr Mwau made the decision on Friday morning.
"Prime Minister Raila Odinga, acting in consultation with President Mwai Kibaki, early today asked Hon John Harun Mwau to step down as Assistant Minister for Trade until investigations into allegations that he is one of those involved in drug trafficking are completed," read the statement from the PM\’s office.
"The PM acknowledged Mwau\’s wish to step down and until his name is cleared and, after consultations with the President, asked Hon Mwau to do so, stating that it was the shared feeling between the President and the Prime Minister."
Internal security Minister Prof George Saitoti on Wednesday sensationally revealed to a charged Parliament that MPs Mwau (Kilome), Gidion Mbuvi (Makadara), Hassan Joho (Kisauni) and William Kabogo (Juja) were under investigation by the police over the narcotics trade.
He also said Mombasa businessman Ali Punjani was under the police spotlight.
The Minister was responding to a personal statement by the Makadara MP who had accused senior police officers of harassing and threatening him at his Continental House parliamentary office.
Juja MP William Kabogo later tabled a dossier containing names of alleged drug barons, reportedly authored by US ambassador Michael Ranneberger. Mr Kabogo said Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and Kamukunji’s Simon Mbugua had been named in the dossier.
Mr Wamalwa objected to the dossier, terming it a smear campaign that was aimed at tarnishing his 2012 presidential ambitions.
Mr Joho, on his part, protested being named in the House in connection with the ongoing probe and asked the Speaker to direct that his name be expunged from the records of Parliament until the investigations are completed.
The Kisauni MP said that he was ready to cooperate with police investigations into the matter and sought assurance that those linking him to the trafficking ring should also be prosecuted.
Prof Saitoti said that those found maligning others will face the law as they will be deemed to be obstructing investigations.
Mr Odinga also told Parliament that he had formed a task force on the issue.
The PM said that the he had received the report from the US envoy and appealed to the House to give him two months to conclude investigations into the matter.
Mr Wamalwa on Thursday also maintained his innocence after the \’drug barons\’ dossier.
"We have seen leaders using Parliament as a slaughter house where they ruin other people\’s reputations. But I have spoken to the American Ambassador and he has assured me that my name is not among those that he forwarded to the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission," he claimed.
The same sentiments were shared by Mr Mbugua who also maintained that he had never been involved in the narcotics trade: "I am a humble Kenyan who and I only depend on my salary."
Mr Joho, on his part, criticised the report by Prof Saitoti terming it malicious. He challenged those with any evidence implicating him in the trade to come forward as he was ready to defend himself in court.
"In fact I ask the State, what is it waiting for? Because if the report is so substantial what are waiting for? Take me to court tomorrow," he quipped.
Last month, Amb Ranneberger announced that the US was conducting investigations into an international drug trafficking scandal involving five Kenyans. The five included four senior government officials and a prominent businessperson.
Although he declined to name the said individuals who were also slapped with travel bans, the American diplomat maintained that his government had credible implicating them in the illicit trade.
"Trafficking Narcotics to Kenya is a growing problem, but the five people that I mentioned are not the only people who are involved… those are the people we have detailed information (on) and we have also shared the information with the government," he had said then.