Junior minister steps aside in Kenya drugs probe

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.

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