Post-election violence in Kenya led to the demand for more reforms.
Post-election violence in Kenya led to the demand for more reforms.

The vice chairman of Kenya’s National Commission on Human Rights, a political pressure group says President Mwai Kibaki is reluctant to fight graft after he reportedly nullified the suspension of two cabinet ministers over corruption allegations.

Hassan Omar said a majority of Kenyans have lost confidence in the coalition government’s ability to root out the country’s “endemic” corruption.

“Many of us are of that view that Kibaki is a very reluctant person when it comes to matters of corruption. In fact if you look at the first administration of the last five years, he has basically allowed a lot of latitude and leeway to corruption. And he’s been very unserious given the remarks that he made,” he said.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Raila Odinga suspended two cabinet ministers over allegations of graft shortly after President Kibaki took a similar stance against eight officials.

The prime minister said the two cabinet ministers needed to step aside for the next three months to investigate allegations of scandals in subsidized maize and education programs.

Omar said there seems to be confusion within the government.

“What happened yesterday was the fact that the two aides to the prime minister resigned on the basis of allegations of corruption. Having realized that he lost the initiative, the president went round and sacked technocrats …on the basis of that the prime minister decided to be a bit more courageous (and) decided to suspend the political actors using the same rationale as the supervisor of government,” Omar said.

Kenyan media reported that President Kibaki lifted a three-month suspension of Agricultural Minister William Ruto and Education Minister Sam Ongeri, describing it as illegal.

But Omar said President Kibaki was wrong for annulling the Prime Minister’s suspension of the two cabinet ministers.

“It’s really dishonest for anybody to purport then that the suspensions are a nullity because there was no proper consultation. The president has to realize that he lost the initiative against corruption,” Omar said.

The international community and some Kenyans have reportedly demanded the coalition government be tougher on graft.

Omar said the unity government has not been successful in fighting corruption.

“This government is a mixture of oil and water. Those two are usually not ingredients that can necessarily come up with a fine formula. What happened is that we have a very conservative axis of government that believes in perpetuation of impunity. And then we have a more emerging paradigm in government that is a host of people who believe in a more rule of law kind of system of government,” Omar said.