March 29, 2015 / 3:23 PM / in 3 years

Fifth Kenyan minister steps aside to make way for graft probe

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A fifth Kenyan government minister vacated her post on Sunday, three days after President Uhuru Kenyatta said officials cited in a report by an anti-corruption watchdog should step aside pending investigation.

Kenyatta’s spokesman said Lands Minister Charity Ngilu had acted in line with the president’s instruction that anyone criticized in the confidential report should move aside, regardless of rank.

Kenyatta has promised to take personal charge of fighting corruption, seen as a major obstacle to business and law enforcement and as a deterrent to investment in Kenya.

On Saturday, ministers in charge of Energy and Petroleum, Transport and Infrastructure, Labor and Agriculture and Fisheries also stepped aside. Other cabinet ministers have been asked to temporarily handle the workload of the five.

Kenyatta made the fight against graft a priority on taking office in 2013, but critics say he has so far failed to rid his government of corrupt officials.

He has not named anyone cited in the report by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. Parliament has yet to disclose its details, and Kenyatta has said it is not his role to determine whether those cited are guilty or innocent.

Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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