Kenyan energy, education ministers leave because of corruption scandals

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki announced the resignations of his energy and education ministers Monday amid corruption scandals. In an address on state-owned television, Kibaki said that the two ministers had left government to allow for investigations into the scandals to be carried out.

The resignations came as pressure mounted on Kibaki to respond to allegations made last month by John Githongo, who served as Kibaki's anti-corruption ombudsman for two years until February 2005, of high-level government corruption.

Kibaki won elections in 2002 promising to root out the corruption that had become endemic under the 24-year rule of his predecessor, President Daniel arap Moi. Now, though, Kibaki is accused of allowing the old ways, and even some discredited figures from the previous government, to hold sway.

Kiraitu Murungi, who was energy minister until Monday, has been linked to several multimillion dollar scandals. George Saitoti, who was education minister, has been implicated in Kenya's biggest financial scandal, a scam dating to the early 1990s and to Moi.

Kibaki's finance minister resigned a week ago in the scandal linked to Murungi, which also had implicated Kibaki's personal assistant, Alfred Gitonga. Earlier Monday, the presidential press service announced without giving any reason that Gitonga's contract would not be renewed.

The energy and finance ministers and Kibaki's assistant were among several high ranking officials named in a dossier Githongo made public last month. The scams Githongo detailed in his dossier, involving government contracts awarded to companies that existed only on paper, had been widely reported in the Kenyan media. But Githongo's was the first credible account of ministers' involvement.

Kenya's biggest scandal, though, predates Kibaki. It began as a ploy to get export credits for gold and diamond jewelry but evolved into a complex web of financial dealings. Earlier this month, an inquiry report on the gold scandal recommended further investigation of the role of former President Moi and pressing criminal charges against Saitoti. Saitoti was vice president and finance minister during the early years of the scandal, reports the AP.

N.U.