Thursday, July 31, 2008



July 31, 2008
Kenya Times

THE CONTROVERSY surrounding promotions and retirements within the Armed Forces found its way on the floor of Parliament yesterday, with Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale demanding for a statement from the Ministry of Defence. Dr Khalwale sought an explanation from Defence Minister Yusuf Hajji on the criteria used by the Defence Council in the recent ranking, promotions and retirement of senior military officers.

Khalwale further wants the Defence Minister to clarify whether the rules on military promotions and retirements introduced by retired Chief of General Staff (CGS) Daudi Tonje are still operational.Said he: "The House would want the Minister to clarify whether the Tonje rules met international standards and further clarify if indeed the military is held hostage by corruption, nepotism and tribalism."

Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio promised to convey Khalwale’s request to minister Haji who was not present in the House at the time.The military has recently come under uncharacteristic media scrutiny over claims of divided loyalties, high-handedness, tribalism, nepotism, and political meddling---issues which are said to have been stoked by the anticipated retirement of a number of top military officers next year.

Chief of General Staff General Jeremiah Kianga, is said to be due for retirement in August next year. The two generals thought to be in line to succeed him--- Lt-Gen Joseph Karangi and Army commander Lt-Gen Augustine Njoroge are also said to be up for retirement according to the Tonje reforms. The President who is the Commander-in-Chief can extend the CGS’s term, but the offer can be declined. Immediate former CGS retired General Joseph Kibwana accepted and served an extra two years.

The reforms introduced by retired General Tonje stipulated that commissioned officers who have not moved to the next rank within a stipulated period of service should be automatically retired irrespective of age.Last evening, the Department of Defence clarified that the so called ‘Tonje rules’ are still in force since they were included in the officers’ terms and conditions of service.DoD spokesman Bogita Ongeri said contrary to media reports, the Tonje rules were still in force and binding.

Ongeri ,however, said the said rules had been formulated during the tenure of General Mohamoud Mohamed but have always been credited to General Tonje because he is the one who implemented them.Other sources within the military said General (Rtd) Tonje while initiating the reforms, had invoked section 6 (2) of the Armed Forces Act that placed him responsible for the ‘control, direction and general superintendence of the armed forces."

Despite being approved by the Defence Council in place during President Moi regime, the reforms were not formalised thus making them operational, but only on ‘a gentleman agreement’ basis.The vulnerability of the Tonje reforms came to the fore at a National Defence Council meeting held on July 11 and which was chaired by Defence minister Yusuf Hajji.

The meeting deliberated on the retirement of senior officers as well as promotion and extension of terms of services of other officers in a shake up that could have a bearing on next year’s succession. According to informal reports, Deputy Army Commander Maj-Gen Jones Mutwii’s term in office ended last December but the Defence Council extended it. Maj-Gen P. J. Opiyo, who was seen as well placed to take over from Army Commander Lt-Gen Augustino Njoroge and who had sought an extension of his term had his request turned down.

Last week, Armed Forces Training College Commandant Maj-Gen Geoffrey Okanga was retired while Brigadier Simon Karanja, who was Okanga’s deputy, has reportedly been promoted and will replace Opiyo.The Defence Council comprises of Minister Hajji, Assistant Ministers Joseph Nkaiserry and David Musila, CGS Jeremiah Kianga, Army Commander Lt. General Augustine Njoroge, Navy Commander Major General Samson Mwathethe, Air Force Commander Major General Harold Tangai and Permanent Secretary.

Assistant Minister Nkaiserry has however asserted that the Tonje rules are not among the manuals and laws regulating the conduct of military personnel.In a paid-up advert in today’s Kenya Times, the Defence Ministry clarified that decision making in the military regarding military personnel is made through a set legal process of boards which make recommendations to the appropriate levels, including the Defence Council and ultimately the President.

In the advert, DoD says the extension of service for senior officers, including Major Generals Opiyo and Mutwii were considered and outcomes communicated.On the case of Major General Okanga, the report says his former position as Commandant at the Armed Forces Training College, Lanet was scaled down from a Major General to a Brigadier, leading to him being reassigned other duties at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"It also happened to several other posts and affected other officers as well. The law allows for this and it has happened many times in the past," the paid up ad said, adding that …the current media hype on the matter is merely speculative.