Kenyan ministers killed in plane crash

A Kenyan Cabinet minister and assistant minister died on Tuesday along with two others when their light plane crashed near the Masai Mara game reserve, officials said.

Roads Minister Kipkalya Kones (56) and Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Lorna Laboso (47) were aboard the plane with a pilot and a security guard, President Mwai Kibaki said in a statement.

”The wreckage has been found and there are no survivors,” Kibaki said. ”Our country has lost leaders of immense potential at their prime age and with a promising future. Let us all remain united at this moment of sorrow as a nation.”

There was no immediate confirmation for the cause of the crash in a remote area called Kajong’a, about 90km west of the capital Nairobi. The plane was bound for Kericho, Kenya’s tea-farming capital in the Rift Valley.

”The plane came down on an unoccupied house and disintegrated, killing all four occupants,” Narok district police chief Patrick Wambani told Reuters.

Both politicians were members of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party, which had opposed President Mwai Kibaki and advocated public protests after he won a disputed re-election in December.

The vote sparked Kenya’s worst violence since independence from Britain in 1963, and deal to end the political impasse brought ODM into a coalition government with Kibaki’s Party of National Unity alliance.

Kibaki’s statement made no mention of succession for the ministers, but it is almost certain that their replacements would be drawn from ODM under terms of the power-sharing agreement that binds the coalition together.

Kones was a five-term member of Parliament and was first elected in 1988, after a career as a teacher and manager at a produce firm. He held several other ministries throughout his public career.

Laboso was a first-term legislator who campaigned against the cultural practice of female genital mutilation in her Kipsigis tribe.

After a career as a secretary and accountant, she got her university degree in communications last year. – Reuters 2008

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