Kenya: President reinstates ministers suspended by PM
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Sunday evening reinstated two ministers who had been suspended hours earlier over fraud investigations by his Prime Minister, Raila Odinga.
The president said that he had not been consulted and Odinga did not have the authority to order the suspensions. Therefore “constitutionally, the two ministers remain in office”, he said.
Odinga had declared on Sunday afternoon that Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Education Minister Sam Ongeri were suspended in connection with frauds worth millions.
The president’s overruling of his prime minister’s decision reveals more cracks in Kenya’s coalition government.
“This position should not be interpreted in any way as undermining the ongoing war against corruption,” Kibaki said in a statement. “The war against corruption will be successfully fought when we do so in accordance with the Constitution and the due process of law.”
Odinga’s move was a bold one, as ministers are rarely fingered in the East African nation’s frequent corruption scandals.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers audit recently revealed that $26-million of government money was diverted in a maize scam.
Government auditors also said $1-million was missing from a scheme to provide free primary school education. Britain and the United States have suspended aid to the programme over the scandal.
Most Kenyans believe their politicians are irremediably corrupt and more concerned with politicking than tackling the nation’s problems. The latest clash between the president and the prime minister is unlikely to dispel that notion.
Odinga was appointed prime minister in 2008 as part of a power-sharing deal that ended months of election-related violence in which more than 1 300 people lost their lives.
Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) had accused Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) of rigging the December 2007 general election.
An independent report into the violence said that several reforms were necessary if a repeat of the clashes was to be avoided in the next elections in 2012.
However, the ODM and PNU’s coalition government has so far failed to implement the recommended reforms, with the two parties instead fighting each other tooth and nail for power.—Sapa