Kenya finance minister quits – ICC charges
Nairobi – Kenya’s Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta resigned on Thursday after the International Criminal Court ruled this week he should stand trial for his alleged role in 2007-8 post-election violence.
Head of public service Francis Muthaura, one of the most influential men in President Mwai Kibaki’s circle, who was also indicted Monday by the Hague-based court, resigned as well.
Kibaki “accepted the decision by Hon Uhuru Kenyatta to step aside as the minister for finance,” his office said in a statement.
“However, Hon Kenyatta will retain the position of deputy prime minister in accordance with the constitution,” it added.
Activist groups have gone to court to block Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s first president, from running for the presidency in elections due by March 2013 following the ICC charges.
Kenyatta, one of Africa’s wealthiest men, and Muthaura, often described as Kibaki’s right-hand man, face five counts including orchestrating murder, rape, forcible transfer and persecution in the polls’ aftermath.
Kenyatta said following the ruling on Monday that his “conscience is clear” but vowed to co-operate with the world court.
“I am confident that the truth will come out and I will be vindicated in the fullness of time,” he said, urging people to “remain calm and peaceful during this period”.
Candidate for president and jail
One of Kenya’s top newspapers, the Daily Nation, on Thursday had led its editorial calling for Kenyatta and Muthaura to quit office.
“It would be decidedly odd if a candidate for president was also a candidate for imprisonment if convicted, and impeachment,” it said.
Kenyatta and Mathaura are among four Kenyans due to face trial at the ICC, along with former higher education minister and presidential hopeful William Ruto, and radio host Joshua arap Sang.
ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo was allowed in March 2010 to investigate six Kenyans, three of them aligned with President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity and three who supported the opposition Orange Democratic Movement of Raila Odinga, now the prime minister in a coalition government.
Charges were dropped against former industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey and former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali, the court said.
Kibaki named Robinson Githae, Nairobi development minister, to be the acting finance minister, while Muthaura was replaced by Francis Kimemia, a senior civil servant.