Moses Wetang’ula, Kenya’s Foreign Minister has resigned from his job with immediate effect. The resignation comes just hours after his permanent secretary also resigned in order to pave way for investigations into corruption allegations over the procurement of some of the country’s foreign embassies. Wetang’ula removed himself from office amid questions over his role in the purchase and sale of Kenyan Embassies in Pakistan, Egypt, Belgium, Japan and Nigeria. He was reported as saying “The only thing I do, and must do, is to step aside and give my appointing authority to the president, who I have no doubt understands me fully to have in addressing his mind to this issue, because I am sure he also does not want to have a corrupt minister in his fold. And when I am vindicated, I can assure you, I will be back.”
A new Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act written into Kenya’s new constitution requires any public officer facing corruption charges to step aside until his name is cleared. Apparently, If Wetang’ula had not stepped down, Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki would have been required by law to take action and that would have meant suspending him. The Foreign Minister has been mentioned in a parliamentary investigation into the Foreign Ministry’s procurements overseas. According to the the report, the government Kenya had overpaid for embassy property in Japan by nearly $15 million.
The report highlighted the transaction which was completed in cash, despite repeated assessments given to Kenyan officials deeming the land unsuitable for the embassy’s purposes. The Parliamentary Defence and Foreign Relations Committee accused Wetang’ula of deliberately misleading the committee regarding the purchases and cited him for gross misconduct. Wetang’ula has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation, he has been arguing that in his position as foreign minister he was not directly involved in government procurement. Wetang’ula has acknowledged that many of the transactions cited in the report proceeded without his knowledge.
Thuita Mwangi, the permanent secretary in the Foreign Ministry, also resigned after being implicated in the embassy scandal. He has maintained his innocence and hoped his resignation would provide space for a quick and thorough investigation. Former Higher Education Minister William Ruto was also recently ordered to stand trial for allegedly receiving $1.2 million from the illegal sale of public land. It seems the government of President Kibaki is determined to stamp out corruption which seems to be eating into the fabric of Kenya’s political life
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