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Politics

Kenya mourns the death of its internal security minister

The Kenyan government has declared three days of mourning, after Sunday's helicopter crash that killed the country’s Internal Security Minister Prof. George Saitoti and his deputy Orwa Ojode.

As Kenyans continue to mourn the death of its Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, Eurocopter, the manufacturer of civil and military helicopter that killed the minister, said it will help to investigate the cause of the crash. Two bodyguards and two pilots were also among killed in the crash.

The Internal Security Minister Prof. George Saitoti, an American-trained economist and mathematician, was one of the most visible figures in Kenyan politics. For over a decade he was a deputy to former President Daniel Arap Moi. He was one of the contenders in the upcoming presidential candidates.

Margaret Saitoti, the wife of Kenya's Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, mourns at the scene of the helicopter crash.

Margaret Saitoti, the wife of late the minister, at the scene of the holicopter crash

The death of Saitoti is a “great tragedy that has befallen our country at this time as we are making elaborate preparations to hold peaceful elections,” Prime Minister Raila Odinga said at the scene of the crash, a forest in the city's outskirts.

“As we speak now, nobody knows the cause of the accident,” Odinga said. “Nobody knows, and that's why the experts are going to carry out investigations.” He said that Saitoti and Ojode were on their way to a political event in western Kenya.

Johnnie Carson, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said during a visit to Kenya on Sunday that Kenya,”has lost one of its most outstanding public servants,” He called the loss a great tragedy and that the U.S. extended its condolences.

Saitoti and the “al-Shabab”

Somali militia of Al-Shabab during exercises at their military training camp.

Islamist militia group al-Shabab rejoice the death of the late minister

As Security Minister, Saitoti was the government's spokesman on security matters including Kenya's decision to send troops to Somalia last year.

He also appeared often on national television to reassure the public in the aftermath of deadly attacks blamed on the Somali militant group al-Shabab.

As Kenyans mourned the death of Saitoti and condolence messages from the region and around the world trickled into the country, the Somali Islamist group, al-Shabab rejoiced over his death using its official Twitter account. They said Saitoti was “Better off dead!” The militant group blamed him for the suffering of Muslims in Somalia and Kenya.

“Saitoti played a prominent role in overseeing the abduction, torture and imprisonment of hundreds of innocent Muslims in his war against Islam,” al-Shabab tweeted.

"Junk" chopper allegations

As investigations got underway into the crash, details emerged that the aircraft was acquired by the Kenya Police five months ago, raising questions on procurement procedures of airplanes and helicopters for its security forces.

A close up of the late minister Prof.George Saitoti.

Internal security minister Prof.George Saitoti killed in a helicopter crash

Anti-Corruption crusader Mwalimu Mati said the crash should make the country focus on the history of bogus government purchases for the Kenya Police Air wing.

Mati's corruption watchdog called various government purchases questionable and pointed out that they have cost the country millions of dollars since 1999.

Saitoti resigned as education minister in February 2006, but was re-appointed months after a constitutional court ruled that an inquiry that investigated the 1990s scandal called Goldenberg, wrongly concluded that Saitoti needed to be further investigated for his alleged role.

Author: Isaac Mugabi (AFP, AP)

Editor: Asumpta Lattus

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