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Kenyan Justice Minister Denies Intimidating Her Perceived Political Opponents

In Kenya, the political bad blood between Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Justice Minister Martha Karua continues. Ruto, a member of the Orange Democratic Movement, one of the two main parties that make up the current coalition government had reportedly said that Karua, a member President Kibaki's party, sent an emissary over the possibility of Ruto joining hands with Karua for the 2012 presidential elections.

Ruto also reportedly said that a failed motion in parliament to censure him over corruption was an attempt by Justice Minister Karua to remove him from contesting the 2012 elections. Ruto is alleged to have used his influence to help a company that he partly owns to sell two million bags of maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board.

Justice Minister Karua told VOA she is not using her office to intimidate her perceived political opponents.

"I deal with policies for the entire government, whether is a prosecution done by the attorney general, investigations done by the police and also the lack of coordination within government of all the players," she said.

Karua brushed off allegations by Mr. Ruto that she has failed to fight endemic corruption in Kenya.

"In fact what Mr. Ruto is like saying you having worked hard enough; you haven't broken me yet. His case is one of the cases that has been pending since 2003 where he as a litigant through his lawyer has successfully stalled the case through constitutional application, and the court has failed to ensure that ends," Karua said.

She said Kenyans must double their efforts to renew the country's justice system.

"We must renew our justice system; we must renew our institutions, and it's no more complicated because in government we now have people with pending cases like him," Karua said.

She would not elaborate on the criminal case against Mr. Ruto except to say that it is a criminal case of an economic crime nature.

Karua also dismissed another Ruto allegation that a recent failed motion in parliament to censure Ruto for corruption was an attempt by Karua to remove him from contesting the 2012 elections.

"I think any intelligent observer should be able to separate facts from fiction. What if there was political bad blood between us, would that excuse him to mismanage his docket? Let's stick to the issues at hand," Karua said.

Karua, who has reportedly declared her intention to run for president in 2012, denied she had sent an emissary to Ruto over the possibility of Ruto joining her for the 2012 presidential elections.

"I have told you right from the outset that whether there's politics or not, whether he has had views of me or anybody else, would that entitle him to mismanage his docket, would that absorb him from accountability. Those are the issues any intelligent observer should make. Whether you want to use politics as an excuse, you still will have to account. And politics after 2012 will be 2017. Anybody concluding that way would be saying that no politician will have to account because every time you can say someone is haunting you," Karua said.