Uhuru sidelining Parliament in military decisions, says Raila
The Presidents is the Commander-in-Chief and the Constitution gives him the mandate to recall soldiers without seeking legislators’ approval
Opposition chief Raila Odinga yesterday said the President’s “rash action” to recall Kenyan troops from Juba, South Sudan, was driven by ego and a deliberate misinterpretation of the law.
He said in the new Constitution the President does not have an exclusive mandate in matters military, nor can he purport to have military authority over the forces that excludes the rest of Kenyans.
National security is subject to the authority of the Constitution and Parliament, Raila said. “It is Parliament, and not the President, that has overall authority over the military,” the Cord leader said in a statement.
The Constitution in Article 239 says that the national security organs are subordinate to civilian authority.
“The reason the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces is because he is a civilian. His position epitomises the civilian authority of the people of Kenya over their military,” Raila said.
Section 240 of the Constitution establishes the National Security Council presided over by the President.
The Council may, with the approval of Parliament, deploy national forces outside Kenya for peace support operations.
But the Constitution also gives the Commander-in-Chief the mandate to recall soldiers without necessarily seeking Parliament’s approval.
DP William Ruto on Sunday told off the opposition chief over his criticism of the President’s action to withdraw troops from South Sudan.
The DP said the Head of State, as the Commander-in-Chief of the KDF, can take decisions regarding the troops.
But Raila 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 KDF without seeking authority from Parliament.
“This position is as autocratic as it is unconstitutional and outdated. Gone are the days of the Kenya African Rifles and the Kenya Armed Forces that existed to protect the regime from its own people,” Raila said.
“Even in monarchies, the monarchs no longer have the power to wake up and do as they wish without the approval of the people through their elected representatives.”
Raila said the withdrawal of the soldiers from Juba not only denies them the allowances they get on such missions, but also invaluable experience.
“These are now lost as a result of rash action,” he said.
Raila urged the President to “drop the chest thumping and engage rather than confront” the UN, as the damage already done will take long to undo.
The first 100 batch of KDF troops from the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan arrive at JKIA on November 9