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Kenya’s Education Minister Refuses to Resign

  • Peter Clottey

Kenya’s embattled education minister says he will be committing “political suicide” if he resigns his post.

Pressure for Sam Ongeri’s resignation has been mounting over following a government audit that revealed 4.2 billion shillings [$46,979,867.66] earmarked for a free education program have been embezzled.

Sam Ongeri maintains innocence about the free primary education scandal and says police probe into the alleged embezzlement will exonerate him. He said calls for him to resign are politically motivated.

“That is really trying to tell me to take political suicide on things that are not clear,” says Ongeri. “What I read here is politics of succession for 2012 [general elections]. Some people are getting very nervous… [But] the truth will set everyone free.”

Some activists have vowed to continue their protests in front of Ongeri’s office in Nairobi. They are demanding that police arrest him over the scandal.

PLO Lumumba, head of Kenya’s Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC,) echoes similar sentiments. He says Ongeri and a number of his colleagues at the education ministry should resign and pave the way for what he calls a holistic investigation into the alleged financial malfeasance.

The commission head also called on President Mwai Kibaki to remove the education minister as well as other high ranking officials if they refuse to resign.

Presenting the audit report to Kenya’s police, finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta alleged that senior officials at the education ministry conspired to swindle the government while manipulating records to hide the alleged theft.

“Why would somebody want to agitate, when the facts and figures have already been laid openly, transparently? Asked Ongeri. “This is a process before the police investigation to ascertain the accounts and to be able to give a correct verdict.”

Ongeri says he handed over a dossier to the police and demanded the investigation after uncovering financial impropriety at the education ministry.

“I am the one who generated this forensic audit,” said Ongeri. “I am the one who was the hunter and now becoming hunted, obviously for political reasons.”

Kenya’s police are investigating the alleged theft at the education ministry.

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