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Legislators question Kenya-UK military deal’s objectivity



Monday, December 5th, 2022 06:20 | By

Legislators question Kenya-UK military deal’s objectivity

Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment are transported on a Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV) during Exercise Askari Thunder in Kenya. COURTESY

The Defence Co-operation Agreement between Kenya and the United Kingdom does not provide a level playing ground for the former, MPs heard yesterday.

Consequently, the Defence Ministry wants Parliament to approve a new one that will suit Kenya’s interests.

MPs heard on Thursday that current bilateral co-operation in defence between Kenya, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland only allows the exchange of students in military institutions, training support and co-operation in the defence industry only.

MPs further heard that the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) has been co-operating with the UK and Northern Ireland defence forces largely in the defence industry, training support and exchange of students in military institutions.

But the Kenyan government through the Defence argues that the current arrangement is “thin “and does not exploit all the potential areas of co-operaton.

Proposed agreement

Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale in a memorandum tabled before the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee of the National Assembly, said the proposed agreement expands the potential areas of co-operation to include security and defence policy, peacetime military activities, environmental protection, military sports, military medicine and research and development.

“The draft agreement also expands co-operation in military training to include military exercises, staff talks and technical meetings and exchange of teaching and training personnel as well as students from military institutions,” Duale says in the report.

Kenya and the UK were at loggerheads over the death of a Kenyan woman who was allegedly stabbed by a British soldier.

Agnes Wanjiru, 21, was last seen alive with British troops at a hotel in Nanyuki in March 2012 before her mutilated body was found three months later near an army base. 

General Mark Carleton-Smith, then head of the army, said in October 2021 he was ‘determined’ to support Kenyan local authorities to ‘establish the facts as quickly as possible’.

Meanwhile the Defence ministry wants Parliament to ratify the draft agreement without further delays as it was for the good of the country.

The draft agreement has been cleared by the Attorney General and the National Security Council. The agreement was signed by the parties on July 27, 2021 during former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to the United Kingdom.

Bilateral cooperation

It provides a formal framework for bilateral co-operation between Kenya and the UK and Northern Ireland.

The agreement is in line with section 37 of the Kenya Armed Forces Act, 2012 and section 283 which requires that co-operation in defence be regulated by an agreement which should also provide for legal status of the visiting forces while in the republic of Kenya.

The Kenyan Parliament is required to ratify the agreement which will regulate co-operations in security and defence policy, initial, advanced and follow-on training of military and Ministry of Defence civilian personnel, defence administration and welfare matters of military personnel, counter piracy and other maritime security activities.

Military activities

The agreement will also regulate co-operation on peacetime military activities, protection of the environment, military medical services including research and development, military sports, disaster relief and humanitarian operations by the armed forces, military exercises, information operations training, defence civilian component, exchange visit of military personnel, mapping and survey and exchange of geographic materials and other areas of mutual interest which may be decided upon in future.

The draft agreement, while subjecting the visiting forces to the laws of the host nation, grants the authorities of the visiting forces primary jurisdiction to try offences arising out of official duty.

It establishes the Inter-Governmental Liaison Committee comprising of representatives of the republics of Kenya and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to oversee the implementation of the agreement.

The Inter-Governmental Liaison Committee will have power to settle all disputes and misunderstandings arising out of the implementation of the agreement.

Duale said The Defence Council has already considered the draft agreement and approved it ready for the adoption by parliament.