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Surrender hotel and quit job, CORD tells DP William Ruto

Weston hotel, on Langata Road Nairobi

NAIROBI: The Opposition has asked Deputy President William Ruto to resign following his confession that he owned shares in a controversial five-star luxury hotel.

Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) senators James Orengo and Johnstone Muthama said the hotel is on land said to have originally belonged to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and was grabbed in 2002.

The leaders said the DP had to surrender the land on which the hotel stands, and quit his position as the second-in-command to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Orengo (Siaya) and Muthama (Machakos) told a news conference at Parliament buildings that the piece of land on which the hotel stands had been used as collateral for a Sh450 million loan from a leading commercial bank. The loan, the senators claimed, was in $1.5 million and Sh350 million.

The senators claimed the land was grabbed through a series of "questionable transactions". Orengo, who is a former Lands Minister, said the issue of the Weston Hotel land surfaced when he was in Government, but claimed attempts to revoke the title were thwarted by corrupt court judges.

"If you are a leader in a government and the property you own stands on land that is strategic to public interest, the logical thing you do is surrender the property and quit!" said Orengo.

Muthama lamented that when he linked Ruto to another piece of land in Karen, Nairobi, that had been grabbed, he was sued. He claimed he now felt vindicated that the DP admitted to owning shares in a hotel built on land that was allegedly grabbed. The DP spoke on Tuesday night on live prime-time TV.

Orengo, who was cleared by both the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions after he was named on President Kenyatta's list of shame, termed his inclusion on the list "malicious".

And Muthama, who is in court battling a similar case, said there was no point in the Deputy President continuing to serve in his position, now that all the other State officers and public servants accused of abuse of office and corruption had been forced to quit.

A co-owner of Weston Hotel, Patrick Osero, who was the chairman of the Agricultural Development Corporation, was also forced to quit because of graft allegations.

Thursday, the man who linked Ruto to the Sh28 billion controversial tender at Eldoret's Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) also accused the DP of being "insincere".

Herbert Ojwang', a former aide of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, dismissed the DP's assertion that he (Ojwang') forced his way into a meeting between Ruto and Chinese businessmen regarding the MTRH tender, said to have been inflated from Sh17 billion to Sh28 billion.

LIBEL CASE

Ojwang claimed he refused to surrender the agent's agreement for the tender as demanded by Ruto and questioned why it took the DP more than two years to realise the deal was a scam.

"The DP claims he suspended the project. No. He did this out of frustration because I refused to surrender the Agent's Agreement. Where is the letter he wrote to suspend the project? Whom did he write to?" asked Ojwang'.

Ojwang' threatened to sue the DP for calling him a 'conman' instead of a whistle-blower.

"I have now instructed a team of prominent lawyers to handle a libel case pitting me against the DP," said Ojwang'.

"The DP is not being sincere with Kenyans. He knew about my involvement and went ahead to accept gifts we took to him from the Chinese," said Ojwang'. Asked what was contained in the briefcase allegedly taken to the DP, Ojwang responded, "You know what is always kept in the briefcase."

But last night, China Wu Yi Company Limited broke its silence on the issue and dismissed Ojwang's claims, saying he had no authority to speak on behalf of the firm.

Chairman and CEO Liu Hui said they met in Ruto's office to brief him on the proposed project at MTRH mainly because the project was in his home area.

"We at no time during the meeting presented any gift of whatever kind to the Honourable Deputy President. We only showed him designs of the work we intended to do," Hui said in a statement.

"The statements by Ojwang are therefore baseless and untrue," he added.

ODM Chairman John Mbadi said the DP should not use television to convince Kenyans of his innocence over corruption allegations.

"The DP needs to step aside and allow thorough investigations into the corruption allegations against him rather than assume he can use his appearance on a TV show to convince Kenyans," said Mr Mbadi.

Mbadi also questioned why Ruto initially denied owning the hotel.

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