Journalist Mohammed Aliâ€™s Jicho Pevu expose, citing exclusive images of the Westgate Attack, aired on Friday 18th October revealing to Kenyans the true extent of the rot in our Defence Forces. Closed circuit camera footage from inside the building showed soldiers systematically and methodically looting Kenyan businesses under the guise of fighting off terrorists. I had written in an earlier article that it was a mistake of monumental proportions to deploy the Military to handle the Westgate situation and Aliâ€™s report confirms this.
Most modern democracies that have standing armies ensure that they have their soldiers subservient to civilian authority by combining the Head of State office with that of the Head of Government. This, in addition to making the elected President Chief Executive of Government, makes the office bearer Commander In Chief of the armed forces as well.
The United States of America requires her Presidents to seek formal congressional approval prior to the declaration of war. Their Constitution goes further expressly forbidding the deployment of armed forces within their borders. This is with good reason, as I argued in my previous article, military forces are not trained to deal with domestic criminal threats. Thatâ€™s the job of the police. Armies are trained to subjugate and neutralize not arrest and arraign.
Furthermore, the Military across the world has time and again displayed an easily acquired penchant for political influence and power. A recent, and very apt example, is the Egyptian scenario. The final nail in President Mubarakâ€™s regimeâ€™s coffin was when he chose to deploy the army to quell the popular revolt. The military got their taste of power and next thing you know, they are pushing for Mubarak to â€œvoluntarily step down.â€ After deposing Mubarak, the Military came under increasing pressure to restore Egypt to civilian rule and subsequently called for elections in which the Muslim Brotherhoodâ€™s Mohammed Morsi emerged President. However, a year after elections, Egyptâ€™s Military found life in the political cold too subdued to bear and yet again deposed another President.
This is exactly why I say the Military belongs either in the barracks or on the war front. Thereâ€™s no place for soldiers in cities. According to the Kenya Defence Forces Act of 2012, the functions of our armed forces are spelt out under Article 8 below:8.(1) Pursuant to Article 241(3) of the Constitution, the Defence Forces Â (a) shall be responsible for the defence and protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic; Â (b) shall assist and co-operate with other authorities in situations of emergency or disaster and report to the National Assembly whenever deployed in such circumstances; and Â (c) may be deployed to restore peace in any part of Kenya affected by unrest or instability only with the approval of the National Assembly. Â I call the readerâ€™s attention to Section 8 b and 8 c. It is my interpretation (I may be wrong) that the drafters envisioned earthquakes, fires, tsunamis and such Acts of God as the â€œsituations of emergency or disasterâ€ mentioned in Section 8 b that only requires that the Military leadership report to Parliament. On the other hand, a terrorist attack such as the Westgate affair (an attack on the nationâ€™s capital) would be classified as â€œinstabilityâ€ which requires the express approval of the National Assembly prior to Military deployment. What does this mean? This means that the deployment of the Military to deal with the Westgate Attack was illegal! Â This poses an even more complicated conundrum for the Commander in Chief. How does he ensure our soldiers stand down in the face of public discontent following the Westgate Fiasco. Military spokespeople have repeatedly denied the allegations of impropriety on the part of our troops with the Cabinet Secretary for Defence going as far as offering a reward for anybody with evidence of looting. I am concerned that we may be painting our generals into a political corner, unfamiliar ground for career soldiers. It will be interesting to see how the soldiers respond to calls for accountability. Cue Egypt? Â Â