Wed Jun 22, 2011
* Activists want minister to quit over scam
* Minister has said he is innocent, won’t quit
By Humphrey Malalo
NAIROBI, June 22 (Reuters) – Kenyan police briefly detained activists on Wednesday who barricaded the offices of the education minister and demanded he resign over a corruption scandal.
Kenya has been racked by big-money scams in recent years, but no minister has been convicted of corruption, a pervasive problem in a nation of 39 million people.
Analysts said the protest was born out of frustration with the government’s weak implementation of anti-graft laws.
Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said last week that 4.2 billion shillings ($46 million) had been lost between 2005 and 2009 in the Education Ministry — much of it given by Britain for free primary education.
The activists were later released and marched peacefully through downtown Nairobi, slowing traffic as they blew whistles and waved placards proclaiming “Stop impunity!” and demanding the resignation of Education Minister Sam Ongeri.
President Mwai Kibaki, who came to power in 2002 on an anti-graft and constitutional reform platform, has not made any public comment on the issue
“I think this kind of action could and should spread. If they are doing it there, they should do it in other ministries where there have been scams. Any thinking Kenyan should be tired of the blame game when corruption is uncovered.”
Kenya slipped down the rankings of Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index last year, falling to 154 out of 178 countries ranked.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said an inquiry file against the activists would be forwarded to government prosecutors.
Patrick Lumumba, head of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), said the minister and the top civil servant should take responsibility for the loss.
Ongeri — who was at a meeting in Mombasa during the protest — has said he will not quit and is innocent of corruption. (Additional reporting by Wangui Kanina; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by David Clarke and Kevin Liffey) ($1=90.85 Kenyan Shilling).
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