Kenyan government ministers named in graft inquiry – media

Some 50 Kenyan officials, including the energy and agriculture ministers, have been named in a corruption inquiry, local media said on Friday, a day after the president said officials accused should step aside pending the investigation.

In his State of the Nation address on Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta promised to ratchet up the battle against corruption that has blighted Kenya’s reputation.

A spokesman for Kenyatta did not respond to questions about which officials were on the anti-graft watchdog’s list that a lawmaker said he expected to be circulated on Tuesday.

However, Kenyan media widely reported that those named in the probe included the ministers of energy, lands, transport, labour, and agriculture.

Representatives of the ministers declined to comment about the reports.

Without citing names, Kenyatta said in his speech any officials “adversely mentioned in this report”, regardless of seniority, should step aside pending investigation.

It was not immediately clear whether any of those identified would step down.

The opposition coalition CORD called the president’s pledge to tackle corruption an attempt at a whitewash.

“The president has to choose between business as usual, politics as usual and a radical transformation that will save our billions being lost in the bottomless pit of corruption which his administration has opened,” it said in a statement.

Western diplomats often cite corruption as a factor deterring investment in Kenya, adding to business costs and making it difficult to battle Islamist militancy and other threats.