By Standard Team
The Government declared three days of national mourning from Monday after the deaths of Prof George Saitoti and Assistant minister Orwa Ojode.
And President Kibaki has also convened a special Cabinet meeting to be attended by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and all ministers.
There was an outpouring of grief on Sunday following news of the death of the ministers. Former camPresident Moi hailed Prof George Saitoti and Orwa Ojode as champions of peace and security.
Moi said that their demise was not only a loss to their families but to the country at large.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta also sent a message of condolence to the families of the two ministers.
shock and disbelief
In a post on his Facebook page, Uhuru said he received the news with deep shock and disbelief.
“Prof Saitoti and Hon Ojode were hardworking colleagues in government. In their dedication to duty, the two put country before self and were an exceptional example of cooperation between a minister and his assistant despite being from different sides of the coalition,” he stated.
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi who was to attend rallies in the vast Rift Valley immediately cancelled all his engagements of the day to mourn his colleagues.
“Iam very shocked. I could not go on with the campaigns. I have had to cancel them until further notice,” he told The Standard.
Mudavadi described Ojode as an articulate leader.
“You saw how he performed in Parliament. He was very active and an able deputy to the late Saitoti,” he said.
Kanu vice-chairman Gideon Moi in a statement to The Standard,said the two ministers had played a major role in instilling law and order and cracking down on terrorist elements.
“They were in office at a time that the country faced major threats from agents of terror and they had done their part in ensuring the people were protected,” Gideon said.
Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat said Saitoti and Ojodeh had played a major role in reforming the police service whose image had over the years been tainted.
Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said the Government was robbed of two dedicated servants whose tenure in the security docket had many successes. “I am deeply saddened by the death of brother Saitoti and Ojodeh.”
Added Kiraitu: “Saitoti will be remembered for his famous statement that there comes a time when the country is more important than the individual and he eventually abandoned his presidential bid for the sake of peace and unity.”
Lands Minister James Orengo said” Kenya was faced with yet another tragedy coming at a critical time when Police reforms and the general election were coming and said the loss was a setback to the grand coalition cabinet.”
“I join Kenyans in mourning the fallen leaders and four officers. We are all crestfallen and dumbfounded by the deaths,” Orengo said.
Vice-President Kalonzo and Commissioner of Police Matthew Iteere said immediate investigations have been launched into the crash to establish the cause of the accident.
“Tragedy has struck the country and I bring the condolences of President Kibaki to the families and all Kenyans. It is a dark day as we pray for the souls of the selfless colleagues who have died,” Kalonzo said.
Eldoret North MP William Ruto sent his condolences to the families and friends of Saitoti and Assistant Minister Ojode.
He said the tragic accident was not only a big blow to the parliament but it had taken away two leaders who will be greatly missed by the people of Kajiado North and Ndhiwa constituencies.
The Panel of Eminent Persons led by chairman Kofi Annan said it was shocked and saddened to hear of this morning’s helicopter crash, which Saitoti Ojode and five others.
“Saitoti was a dedicated public servant. As the Minister responsible for spearheading police reform his demise at such a crucial time in Kenya’s political history is a great loss to the nation,” said the statement from Annan.
Speaking on behalf of the Panel of Eminent African Persons he expressed their deepest condolences to the bereaved families, the Government and people of Kenya.
Trade Minister Moses Wetangula also condoled with the families.
Belgut MP Charles Keter also expressed sadness at the demise of the two leaders and five others.
Nairobi Metropolitan Minister Jamleck Kamau called on authorities to ensure aircraft flying Kenyans are serviceable.
Planning and National Development Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth described Saitoti and Ojode as nationalists who served the nation with a lot of dedication and preached peace in all forums.
Standard Group Deputy Chairman and CEO Paul Melly said that it was a sad day for Kenya as another plane crash had dispossessed the country of great and principled leaders.
AFC Leopards chairman councilor Alex ole Magelo, a longtime friend of Saitoti, termed his death a big loss “beyond comprehension”.
Stories by Rawlings Otieno, Vincent Bartoo, Robin Toskin and Boniface Gikandi