Kenya minister steps aside over saga
Posted Wednesday, October 27 2010 at 15:21
Kenya Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang'ula has stepped aside to pave way for probe into the Sh1.1bn Tokyo embassy scandal.
“I want to tell Kenyans with a clear conscience that I have this afternoon made the decision to step aside from my responsibility and appointment as the Minister of Foreign Affairs to give room and pleasure to those who have been tormenting and haunting me for three four weeks and give room to the very able arms of investigations to carry out their investigations,” he said during a news conference at the Ministry's office in Nairobi.
He, however, maintained his innocence over the mega scandal that had threatened to end his career.
Mr Wetang'ula move comes just hours before Parliament was set to conclude debate on a report by the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee, which recommended that the minister and his permanent secretary step aside to facilitate investigations.
He attributed his troubles over the past four weeks to the Parliamentary committee, whose report he said was laced with malice, rumours, innuendo, conjecture and was crafted “in the most unprofessional character".
But he vowed to come back after the investigations now being conducted by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission are complete, quoting a Luhya saying.
“Where I come from they say, a bedbug told his kids, whatever is hot will always cool down. I have no doubt this will. When am vindicated I’ll be back,” he said.
“Those who carry daggers against others should know that the forces of evil will never last. In God we trust,” he added grimly, and looking genuinely angry.
The minister cast a sarcastic tone as he thanked the journalists for the adverse publicity he has had over the past four weeks as the debate on the committee’s report raged.
“I want to thank you because you’ve given me the publicity I have never had in my whole life, perhaps I will never have… the publicity that every politician desires to have. Even those who didn’t know me do so now,” he said.
He said he had given in to the “court of public opinion and the court of the Fourth Estate which have found the minister of Foreign Affairs culpable".
President Kibaki was reported to have held a long meeting with Mr Wetang’ula, who is also the Sirisia MP, before he announced his decision.
“The only thing I must do is to step aside and give my appointing authority, the President... an opportunity to have a free hand to address this issue. I’m sure he does not want to have a corrupt minister in his fold.”
Earlier, PS Thuita Mwangi had communicated to President Kibaki his decision to leave office temporarily.
"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," he said in a statement.
"I step aside purely as a matter of personal dignity and professional integrity – indeed, the very same dignity and integrity I have upheld in the performance of my duties for more than twenty-two years of public service at various levels in the Government."
A host of leaders reacted to the news.
Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka termed Wednesday “a sad day for the ministry”.