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Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Sunday, 14 February 2010

Kenya: Two ministers suspended in corruption scandal

By Will Ross
BBC News, Nairobi

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga
Mr Odinga said there was enough evidence to investigate the ministers

Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga has suspended the ministers of agriculture and education for alleged involvement in two corruption scandals.

There had been growing calls for ministers to resign after millions of dollars of public money were diverted.

On Saturday, President Mwai Kibaki suspended several senior officials over the scandals but the suspensions of the ministers are more controversial.

Both ministers deny any personal responsibility for the loss of funds.

Announcing the three-month suspension of Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Education Minister Samuel Ongeri, Prime Minister Odinga said two recent investigations into corruption laid credible foundations for the ministers to be investigated.

A recent audit into a maize scandal revealed that $26m (£16.5m) had been diverted while more than $1m was stolen in an education scam.

Ordinary Kenyans have long complained that government ministers appear virtually unaccountable.

But this move is likely to be extremely controversial and will test the stability of Kenya's bloated government which was put together as part of a peace deal to end post-election violence.

Some opponents of the prime minister, including the suspended ministers, are likely to question whether he has the power to take this action.

The suspensions will also be controversial because they come at a time when politicians are busy positioning themselves ahead of elections in 2012.



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