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Kenya's Awori faces questioning over graft scandal

Written by: Staff
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NAIROBI, Feb 22 (Reuters) Kenya's vice-president today faced questioning by a parliamentary watchdog over allegations he was involved in a multimillion dollar graft scandal that has rocked east Africa's richest country.

Vice-President Moody Awori is under intense pressure from the opposition, media and civil groups to step down over his alleged role in the ''Anglo Leasing'' scam, in which contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars went to a phantom firm.

A motorcade carrying Awori swept into parliament where the 78-year-old veteran of Kenyan politics was expected to testify before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which examines government spending.

It is the first time a Kenyan vice-president has appeared before a parliamentary committee.

Awori has rejected calls to resign and denied accusations he helped cover up large payments in the Anglo Leasing case.

Fresh revelations in the Anglo Leasing case and a separate graft scandal, the ''Goldenberg'' affair, forced three ministers to quit this month in the biggest crisis faced by President Mwai Kibaki's government since it came to power in 2002 vowing to fight the corruption miring Kenya in poverty.

The watchdog summoned Awori after returning from a visit to Britain last week, saying it had gathered evidence implicating senior officials.

The head of the watchdog, opposition leader Uhuru Kenyatta, said he was ''shocked'' by the information it received from former anti-graft chief John Githongo, whose accusations in the Anglo Leasing case sparked the latest scandal.

Opposition politicians and rights activists say Awori should step down simply because he is under investigation.

REUTERS SB SSC1539

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