Kenyan MPs take to the streets over hotel sale scandal

Reading time 3 min.

Kenyan legislators Tuesday held a peaceful demonstration demanding the removal of Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, who is caught in a hotel sale scam.

The MPs, shouting “hoteli yetu” (our hotel in the local Swahili language), started the procession at Parliament Buildings from where they marched to the five-star Grand Regency Hotel.

Addressing members of the public and curious onlookers at the entrance of the hotel, the parliamentarians called on President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to move in swiftly and get to the root of the stinker.

On Monday, they moved a motion in Parliament demanding Kimunya’s censure, a no-confidence vote and resignation.

They challenged the two leaders to restore public confidence in the government by sacking the finance minister to ensure a thorough probe and subsequent prosecution of Kimunya and his collaborators.

Drumming up support from the Kenyan youth, the relatively youthful MPs said it was time the young took charge of the country’s affairs and kicked out corrupt, old style leaders.

“The Kenyan people especially are tired of paying taxes which are siphoned out by dubious characters serving in the government,” said fiery legislator Ababu Namwamba.

“We will kick out the imperialists who have grabbed this hotel, repossess it and hand it back to its rightful owners, the people of Kenya,” said Namwamba.

The MPs also threatened to storm the Libyan Embassy, which is close to the hotel to demand back the hotel, after the finance minister said it was sold to Libyan investors.

They also threatened to storm the treasury and forcefully remove the minister from office.

Police kept vigil from distance and did not interfere with or disperse the legislators who demonstrated in a peaceful and orderly manner.

The police, keen not to end up in confrontation with the MPs, allowed the demonstration to take place even though it was not licensed as the law stipulates.

Kimunya, the glib professional accountant serving his second five-year term at the treasurer, has been on the receiving end since Friday.

He stirred the hornets’ nest Friday when he announced that the hotel, a public property, had been sold to Libyan investors at Kenya Shillings 2.9 million – far way below the initial value pegged at Sh 7.9 billion.

But it emerged Tuesday that the hotel was actually sold at a paltry Sh 1.8 billion, not to the Libyan government-owned investment company as Kimunya had claimed but to three individuals – two Kenyans and a Libyan – who are directors of the Kenyan-registered Libya Arab African Investment Company Limited.

Kenyans, including Kimunya’s cabinet colleagues, suspect mischief in the transaction which was conducted secretly and demanded his resignation, probe and prosecution.

In a move that left Kimunya on the ropes, the Libyan Embassy in Nairobi has distanced the government from the deal, saying it was a private deal between a Libyan investor and the hotel owners, Central Bank of Kenya, lending credence to fears that the deal was not above board.

Grand Regency Hotel, built in the early 1990’s , is today one of the top hotels which is frequented by visiting dignitaries.

It has been at the centre of controversy for the last 12 years following an ownership wrangle between the Central Bank of Kenya and a private firm, Goldenberg International.

Goldenberg International, associated with businessman-turned preacher Kamlesh Pattni, was in itself at the centre of a purported gold export scandal in which the country lost billions of Kenyan shillings.

In April, Pattni handed over the hotel to the Central Bank, saying he wanted to end the protracted court battle. Panapress .

Libya  Read latest news and features from Libya : business, politics, culture, life & style, entertainment and sports
Support Follow Afrik-News on Google News