March 28, 2015 / 12:17 PM / 3 years ago

Kenyan ministers, officials leave office pending corruption probe

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Four Kenyan ministers vacated their posts on Saturday to pave the way for investigations into corruption allegations, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s office said, days after he asked those named in a confidential report to do so.

Manoah Esipisu, Kenyatta’s spokesman, said Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Michael Kamau and Kazungu Kambi, in charge of Labor, had complied with the president’s request.

Agriculture and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei had earlier in the day vacated his post, but said he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing.

Other cabinet ministers will temporarily handle the workload of the five, Esipisu said.

On Thursday, without naming names, President Kenyatta said any officials adversely mentioned in the confidential Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission report he handed to parliament should step aside regardless of seniority pending investigation.

“Clearly the President has drawn the line on corruption and expects all State and Public Officers to abide by Executive Order No.6 in which he gives express directives in regard to the intolerance for this vice in government,” Esipisu said.

He added that others who had left their posts included Francis Kimemia, secretary to the cabinet, four principal secretaries, the chief of staff at the Deputy President’s Office and the Investment Secretary at the National Treasury.

Eight chief executives of state-run corporations and the National Social Security Fund also stepped aside.

“The President reaffirms that there are no sacred cows and that this is just the beginning of an unwavering war against corruption,” Esipisu said.

Koskei said he had never been summoned by the state-run watchdog, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, to be questioned on any involvement in graft, and would visit the body’s offices on Monday with his lawyers to start clearing his name.

Kenyatta made the fight against graft a priority on taking office in 2013, but critics say he has failed to sweep out corrupt officials in a nation where corruption is seen as a major obstacle to business, law enforcement and provision of public services.

Parliament is yet to disclose the report’s details.

“As the President told Parliament, it is not his place to determine the guilt or otherwise of the State or Public Officers named in the ... report but that the time has come to send a strong signal to the country,” Esipisu said.

(This story corrects number of ministers to four in lead)

Additional reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Stephen Powell and Raissa Kasolowsky

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