Kenyan minister resigns over car imports scandal

Kenya's industrialization minister resigned on Tuesday over a car imports scandal that will see the country's anti-graft agency taking him to court on corruption charges.

Henry Kosgey said he did not do anything wrong, but still wrote to Kenya's president and prime minister Tuesday to offer to "step aside," a euphemism Kenyan politicians use to mean resigning.

Kosgey is following a recent trend in the Cabinet where ministers have resigned or have been suspended if they face corruption charges. The most recent was the foreign affairs minister who resigned in October over an embassies scandal.

"I look forward to presenting my defense in court," Kosgey said.

In a statement Tuesday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga's office said the prime minister consulted with the president and accepted Kosgey's resignation.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission has been investigating Kosgey for his role in the importation of cars that are more than eight years old, which is illegal in Kenya. The commission's director, Patrick Lumumba, is quoted in Tuesday's edition of Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation as saying the attorney general has authorized Kosgey's prosecution.

Kosgey is also one of six Kenyans named by International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo last month as those who bear the greatest responsibility for Kenya's deadly electoral dispute that saw more than 1,000 people killed after the country's December 2007 presidential poll.

Moreno Ocampo wants the ICC to charge the six with crimes against humanity including murder, rape and torture. Judges are studying his evidence and expected to make their decision in the coming months.

Kosgey has been charged with crimes against humanity including murder for coordinating a campaign of killing and forced deportations in the Rift Valley. He has denied any wrongdoing and said he will go to The Hague if summoned.

His resignation has little to do with these accusations, as Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki has said he did not expect anyone to resign until the Ocampo's charges are confirmed by the court.

The others named by Moreno Ocampo include a deputy prime minister, the secretary to the Cabinet, a former Cabinet minister and a former police commissioner.

Until Tuesday, Kosgey was serving his second stint in the Cabinet, having been appointed as part of a power-sharing deal to end the December 2007 to February 2008 postelection violence. Kosgey previously served in the Cabinet under then President Daniel arap Moi in the 1980s and early 1990s.