Kenya has declared three days of mourning after the country's internal security minister George Saitoti died in a helicopter crash in the Ngong hills outside Nairobi on 11 June.
Five other people lost their lives in the crash including Joshua Orwa Ojode, the assistant minister for internal security, two pilots and two bodyguards.
The cause of the incident – which took place shortly after take-off from the capital’s small Wilson airport – has yet to be determined. The nation’s prime minister Raila Odinga has promised a thorough investigation involving the police, the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).
Saitoti played a central role in Kenya's fight against neighbouring Somalia's Al-Shabaab militants, who welcomed the minister's death but did not claim responsibility.
Saitoti had been consistently vocal in his criticism of Al-Shabaab’s terror campaign in Somalia and Kenya, and recently declared that his administration would not be “cowed” by terrorists. Last October he announced the incursion of 2,000 Kenyan troops into southern Somalia in pursuit of the Al-Qaeda-backed Islamist rebels.
Over the past 30 years, Saitoti held a series of key ministerial posts in Kenya, including finance and education, and he became the country's longest serving vice-president.
Saitoti had intended to stand as a candidate to succeed Mwai Kibaki in next year’s presidential election.