French President François Hollande has joined other world leaders in mourning the deaths of Kenya’s Internal Security minister George Saitoti and his assistant Orwa Ojode.
In a condolence message sent to President Kibaki, Mr Hollande said he had received the news of the two ministers’ deaths in a helicopter crash with great emotion.
The two leaders, he observed, stood out for their commitment to public duty, a strong and united democracy and the fight against terrorism.
He said that in Prof Saitoti, Kenya had also lost one of its most experienced politicians.
“I have profound respect for his involvement in favour of the security of his country at a moment when the up-coming presidential elections are being prepared and while your country is involved in the fight against terrorism in Somalia,” said the French president.
The two died on Sunday along with two pilots and two bodyguards with whom they were flying to a church fundraiser in Mr Ojode’s Ndhiwa constituency.
French Ambassador to Kenya Etienne de Poncins in his condolence message said he regretted the loss of Prof Saitoti and Mr Ojode, saying that the two countries cultivated a partnership on key foreign policy issues during their watch at the Ministry.
“The French government has valued Prof Saitoti as an esteemed counterpart and hopes to continue working together with the Ministry for Internal Security. In March this year, he visited France on official mission and late last year, while acting in the capacity of Foreign Affairs minister.
“As Internal Security minister, Prof Saitoti was a key figure in the ongoing war against Al-Shaabab militia, and was interviewed by France 24 in a bid to shed light on Kenya’s military presence and advancement,” Mr de Poncins said.
The Kenyan Government has appointed a team to conduct investigations into the incident.
French experts from Eurocopter company, the manufacturer of the helicopter, are also in the country to help with investigations.
Britain, the African Union, Uganda, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan are among those who have condoled with the families of the bereaved.