Caught flouting curfew in bar, Kenyan official quits COVID committee

NAIROBI (Reuters) – The chairman of Kenya’s senate committee overseeing the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis has quit the post after police said he flouted an overnight curfew to enjoy drinks with others in a Nairobi bar.

“I will bear responsibility … I apologise to Kenyans and I will face the full consequences of the law,” Johnson Sakaja, who represents Nairobi county and is a close ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta, told reporters on Monday.

Police said Sakaja was caught in the early hours of Saturday morning drinking with about 10 others, long after a 9 p.m.-4 a.m. curfew had set in. He is the first Kenyan official to lay on his sword after breaking the myriad lockdown rules.

His lawyer and fellow senator Mutula Kilonzo said Sakaja would appear in court on Tuesday to face undisclosed charges.

Kenya began easing its lockdown earlier this month, but kept the curfew in place as well as a prohibition on bars. There have been a string of arrests for people drinking illegally.

The East African nation has so far reported just over 13,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 234 fatalities.

Sakaja, 35, is one of a crop of youthful lawmakers who joined the legislature for the first time in 2013 on behalf of Kenyatta’s ruling party.

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