Churchill Otieno: Kenya’s MPs vote no confidence on Finance minister Amos Kimunya

Kenya’s parliament has today passed a vote of no confidence on Finance Minister Amos Kimunya over his handling of the sale of a luxury hotel in Nairobi.

The MPs unanimously voted by shouting ‘Aye’ after over two hours of debate on the motion.

The motion was brought by the Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale.

All MPs who contributed to the motion, including Mr Kimunya’s colleagues in the Party of National Unity (PNU), criticised the Finance minister’s handling of his docket. Mr Kimunya’s sole defender was Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.

Mr Musyoka had wanted debate on the motion to be adjourned until tomorrow to allow for a parallel probe by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to conclude.

Nation’s Political Editor Emman Omari says that with the vote of no confidence having sailed through, Mr Kimunya is required to resign from office, and if he fails, President Kibaki has little choice but to act to remove him from office.

The Finance minister stands accused that he ignored laid down procedures for disposal of public assets and companies, and for allegedly misleading Parliament that should the Government decide to sell the hotel it would be done in accordance with the law.

Defending himself during the debate, Mr Kimunya denied that the sale of the hotel had been conducted in secret.

He said the governor of the Central Bank Prof Njuguna Ndung’u had briefed the Prime Minister, Mr Raila Odinga, on the matter.

The Finance minister also denied previous claims by the Attorney General, Mr Amos Wako that he was kept in the dark. Mr Kimunya told Parliament that he was aware that lawyers acting for the Libyan firm that bought the hotel met Mr Wako six times.

Pressure has mounted on Mr Kimunya since his Cabinet colleague Mr James Orengo revealed last week the Grand Regency hotel had been sold to a Libyan company for about Sh2bn. The hotel was acquired by proceeds from one of Kenya’s infamous corruption deals – commonly known as the Goldenberg affair – and was recovered in the public interest two months ago.

The hotel was handed to the Central Bank who last week sold it to a Libyan firm. The value of the sale has been in dispute with Lands Minister, Mr Orengo saying documents showed the price was Sh1.85 billion and Mr Kimunya replying that the Government gained Sh2.9 billion in the transaction.

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