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Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 12:12 UK

Minister resigns over Kenya hotel

Kenya's Finance Minister Amos Kimunya
Amos Kimunya has said his conscience was clear over the hotel sale

Kenyan Finance Minister Amos Kimunya is stepping down during an investigation into the controversial sale of a luxury Nairobi hotel.

Mr Kimunya said he had asked President Mwai Kibaki to allow him to step down "to facilitate this inquiry."

A government spokesman said the resignation was only a temporary move.

The controversy over the sale of the hotel has split the coalition cabinet formed to end weeks of violence after Kenya's presidential election.

Mr Kimunya is a close ally of President Kibaki.

He has denied reports that the hotel was sold to a local company with Libyan interests for a third of its value.

"As I stated before, my conscience is very clear, and I maintain the position that I am open to an independent inquiry into the sale of the Grand Regency Hotel," Mr Kimunya said at a press conference.

'Temporary'

"The finance minister has been in discussions already with the president over this," government spokesman Alfred Mutua said, according to Reuters news agency.

"But he will not be replaced, it's only a temporary move."

A government inquiry led by the attorney general last week recommended that Mr Kimunya be suspended.

Parliament also passed a vote of no-confidence in him.

But Mr Kimunya had said he would only resign if Prime Minister Raila Odinga - Mr Kibaki's rival in December's presidential vote - also stepped down.

"I would rather die than resign," he said over the weekend.

The hotel was allegedly sold for about $45 million, instead of its recorded valued of $115 million.

Mr Kimunya implicated Mr Odinga and other officials who he says were privy to the sale of the hotel.

The prime minister has led investigations into the hotel sale.

In the past, donors have accused Mr Kibaki of failing to keep promises to tackle the rampant corruption in Kenya.



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