Page last updated at 22:36 GMT, Saturday, 13 February 2010

Kenya officials step down amid corruption inquiries

By Will Ross
BBC News, Nairobi

President Mwai Kibaki, file pic
President Kibaki called for a three-month investigation

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki has asked eight senior officials to step down pending inquiries into two corruption scandals.

One involves the reported loss of $26m in a subsidised maize scam.

The other centres on the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the education ministry.

President Kibaki has asked the officials to vacate their offices for three months to allow for inquiries into the allocation of public funds.

Four of the officials are permanent secretaries.

Just hours before Mr Kibaki's move, two of the officials - both senior aides of Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga - had announced they would step down to allow investigations into the maize scandal.

Last week, an independent report by auditors from the company Price Waterhouse Coopers revealed that more than $26m had been lost in a scam as money intended to give struggling Kenyans access to subsidized maize was diverted.

The ministry of education financial scandal was unearthed late last year and there have been growing calls for senior heads to roll.

The fact that no government ministers have lost their jobs after both these scandals will be seen by many as a sign that Kenya's politicians are pretty much unaccountable.

Not for the first time in a country which is plagued by corruption scandals, the civil servants have taken the flak but the politicians remain in office.

As one analyst put it, the culture of political responsibility simply does not exist in Kenya.

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