Kenyan minister resigns after charges over election violence

Nairobi

Kenya's finance minister has stepped down after being charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged role in the violence that consumed the country after the last elections.

Uhuru Kenyatta, the scion of the country's founding family and Kenya's richest man according to Forbes magazine, retained his role as Deputy Prime Minister but gave up the finance portfolio, in a move seen as a victory for the campaign against high-level impunity in East Africa.

Mr Kenyatta was followed out of government by Francis Muthaura, the powerful head of Kenya's civil service, who was also charged by the ICC on Monday. Seen as the power behind the throne to President Mwai Kibaki, his inclusion in the ICC's investigation into the post-election violence four years ago shook Kenya's political elite.

Two more men will face trial on related charges at the Hague: the already suspended higher education minister William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua Arup Sang.

Despite the trial, Mr Kenyatta has stated his determination to run for president in elections expected later this year. His departure from the finance ministry followed intense pressure from the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, who will be his main rival for the top job.

Some 400,000 Kenyans were displaced by intercommunal fighting when the results of the 2007 elections ended in dispute. The ICC investigation concluded that senior figures in both the government and opposition were guilty of orchestrating the violence which saw more than 1,500 people killed.

While the alleged masterminds have enjoyed tax-payer support in defending themselves, thousands of their countrymen are still living in desperate conditions.

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