June 10, 2012 ·11 Comments
One of Kenya’s longest-serving ministers and its former vice-president died in a helicopter crash outside Nairobi on Sunday.
George Saitoti, the internal security minister, was travelling to a church service south of the capital with his deputy, Joshua Ojode, when their police helicopter came down in forested hills near the town of Ngong.
There were no immediate reports of foul play in the crash, which also killed two bodyguards and two pilots.
However, Mr Saitoti, who planned to stand as a presidential candidate in Kenya’s 2013 elections, spearheaded the country’s fight against Somali jihadists’ promises to explode bombs in Nairobi.
This raised questions as to whether the crash was caused by a terrorist attack.
Mr Saitoti, 66, was born to a poor family in Masailand south of Nairobi, but went on to education in Britain and the US and rose to become one of his generation’s most respected academic mathematicians.
He was finance minister under the former president, Danial arap Moi, and served as vice-president on several occasions between 1988 and 2002.
Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s president, said the deaths were “a devastating loss to our country”.
“Minister Saitoti will forever be remembered as a hardworking and determined public servant who dedicated his time to the service of the Kenyan people,” he said on Sunday.
“There is nothing to suggest that this is anything other than a very tragic accident,” a Kenyan police spokesman said.
By Mike Pflanz, Nairobi
2:07PM BST 10 Jun 2012Follow @somalilandpress
By goth Mohamed