Prime Minister Odinga should resign, says MP

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Kenyan parliamentarians Tuesday asked Prime Minister Raila Odinga to resign over the sale of a five-star hotel, but the call forced the Speaker to ask Members to move a motion to discuss the issue as a national priority.

The MPs did not immediately give a notice of a motion to discuss the Premier’s statement in Parliament as an issue of national priority.

Should such a statement of motion be given, Parliament would adjourn all its bus iness on Wednesday.

However, Odinga, while defending himself against the accusations made by immedia te former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya that he knew about the sale of the hotel, said he had been informed of the intended sale 23 April.

According to him, the Governor of Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u, called him 23 April, to report about the intended sale of the Grand Regency Hotel, which had been discussed during a bank board meeting 7 April.

Though the MPs were moderate in their calls for his resignation, Odinga said nobody in the Kenyan coalition government was sacred and could not be sacked.

The Prime Minister told the parliamentarians calling for his resignation that his first statement in Parliament as a government official had shown he had been given partial information which could not enable him to act, even though he moved into action.

MP Cyrus Jirongo called for the resignation of the Premier, saying Odinga should take the cue from the immediate former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya by resigning from office.

“It is up to this House to determine whether the information I have given on thi s issue should amount to my resignation,” Raila told the MPs.

House Speaker Kenneth Marende told Parliamentarians to cease debate on the issue minutes after ordering a parliamentary finance committee investigating the sale to conclude the probe within 14 days and report to the House.

In his statement, Odinga said the CBK, which initially owned the hotel, had agreed to sell the hotel and the Libyan investors had agreed to pay market rates.

He said the Libyan investors had paid 10 per cent of the funds required, a total of US$ 45 million.

He then formed a committee to investigate the contradicting details given by the former finance minister, disputing the sale of the hotel.

The probe panel, led by attorney-general Amos Wako reported 1 July, after the House passed a motion of no confidence on Kimunya.

He said the team made recommendations to order the minister to step aside. “This is an honourable action for which I commend him,” Odinga said. He also said the step was supported by President Mwai Kibaki.

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