HON RAILA ODINGA ON PRESIDENT AND KDF:
IT IS PARLIAMENT AND NOT THE PRESIDENT THAT HAS OVERALL AUTHORITY OVER THE MILITARY:
Last week, we took issue with the way the President has arrogated to himself power over our military on the basis that he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence forces without referring back to Parliament for authority to make decisions on defence matters.
Our statement was in response to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reaction to the sacking of the Kenyan commander in Sudan by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The response by the Presidency to our objection is the latest indication that we are dealing with a regime that has refused to internalize the Constitution and has equally refused to make the transition to the new constitutional order.
The response has been closely followed by the assertion by the Deputy President that the President has sole mandate in the deployment of the KDF and that matters pertaining to the Kenya Defence Forces rest solely with the Head of State and he can take decisions regarding the troops as he wishes. The President and his deputy must not be allowed to mislead the country.
This position is autocratic as it is unconstitutional and outdated. Long gone are the days of the Kenya African Rifles and the Kenya Armed Forces that existed to protect the regime from its own people. Even in Monarchies, the monarchs nolonger have the power to wake up and do as they wish without the approval of the people through their elected representatives.
We live in the days of the Kenya Defence Forces which belong to the people and exist for the sole purpose of protecting the people.
The new relationship of the people of Kenya with their military is captured in Article 239 (5) of the Constitution which says that national security organs are subordinate to civilian authority.
Indeed, the reason the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces is because he is a civilian. His position epitomizes the civilian authority of the people of Kenya over their military.
The President and his Deputy cannot tell Kenyans to leave military matters alone. Neither can they purport that the President has military authority over the forces that excludes that rest of Kenyans. The President does not have an exclusive mandate in matters military. It is Parliament and not the President that has overall authority over the military.
Section 238 (2) of the Constitution states:
(a) National security is subject to the authority of this Constitution and Parliament.
Article 132 (e) of the Constitution says that the President can only declare war with the approval of Parliament.
And not all decisions concerning the KDF are left to the President.
Section 240 of the Constitution creates the National Security Council which, BUT ONLY WITH, the approval of Parliament, has the sole mandate to:
(a) deploy national forces outside Kenya for:
(i): regional or international peace support operations; or
(ii) other support operations; and
(b) approve the deployment of foreign forces in Kenya.
Dictatorship usually begins with a country’s leadership ignoring or deliberately misinterpreting the constitution for ego missions. That is the path the President and his deputy are trying to put the country on with the outdated view of what the President can do with defence forces.
Provisions of the constitution aside, the rash decision by the President to withdraw all our troops out of South Sudan UN mission does not augur well for our soldiers. It denies them the allowances they get on such missions, which is also shared by the country.
In addition, our soldiers acquire invaluable experience on such missions that they shall never attain in the barracks. All these are now lost as a result of rush action by a regime that has refused to make the transition to the new order.
Unless we drop the chest thumping and engage rather than confront the UN, the damage may take long to undo and our soldiers and the country will be the losers.
RT HON RAILA ODINGA
NOVEMBER 14, 2016.