NAIROBI, (Reuters) – A junior Kenyan minister stepped aside yesterday after he was named among a group of lawmakers being investigated over allegations of involvement in drug trafficking.
A statement from the prime minister’s office said Harun Mwau, the assistant minister for trade, had requested to relinquish his duties to allow for police investigation after he was named a suspect.
Internal security minister George Saitoti told parliament on Wednesday police were investigating Mwau, Gideon Mbuvi, William Kabogo and Hassan Joho.
Mwau was not in parliament at the time, and did not comment on the issue. Mbuvi, Kabogo and Joho, who were in parliament at the time, denied the allegations.
The three do not have cabinet responsibilities.
Michael Ranneberger, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, said last month that four unnamed senior Kenyan government officials and a businessman had been permanently banned from travelling to the United States over allegations of trafficking narcotics.
It was unclear if the four officials mentioned by Ranneberger included Mwau or others under investigation.
East Africa’s biggest economy is a major destination and transit point for heroin and cocaine, according to Ranneberger.
A number of other high-profile officials who have been interviewed over corruption accusations have also stepped aside in recent weeks.