Kenya is today mourning the loss of one of its most illustrious sons. George Saitoti died along with five others in a helicopter crash this morning. The news came as shocking to most Kenyans around the world who have held the one time Vice President in the Arap-Moi administration, in high esteem. Saitoti’s tenure as Kenya’s Interior Minister ushered in many changes in the way the country manned its internal security, especially in the wave of terrorist attacks which have been rampant and have led to the country’s security forces embarking on military missions across the border into Somalia to fish-out Al-Shabaab insurgents. Saitoti was one of Kenya’s most distinguished public servant who served his country with distinction and earned the respect of not only his colleagues in government but the wider populace who saw him as a symbol of unity.
It is reported that the helicopter in which George Saitoti and his Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode died, came down in woodland just outside the Kenyan capital Nairobi in circumstances which still remain unclear. The crash scene has been cordoned off as the country’s police say they have launched an investigation.
George Saitoti who was 66 and born to a relatively poor family in the Masailand region south of the capital Nairobi, came to Britain and the United States for further studies and excelled as one of his country’s most respected academic and mathematician. He served as Finance Minister under president Daniel Arap Moi, and VP between 1988 and 2002.
In paying tribute to the outstanding politician and his deputy, Kenya’s president Mwai Kibaki said the deaths were a devastating loss to the country. He went on to say “Minister Saitoti will forever be remembered as a hardworking and determined public servant who dedicated his time to the service of the Kenyan people.”
British Foreign Secretary, William Hague in a statement said ‘I was extremely saddened to learn of the death of Professor George Saitoti, along with his assistant minister Orwa Ojode and other Kenyans travelling with them this morning. On behalf of the British government, I wish to extend my deepest condolences. My thoughts are with their families and friends, and the people of Kenya, as they come to terms with this tragedy.’
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