Kenya seeks MPs' nod on new UK defence pact


Parliament in session. FILE PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

The State now wants Parliament to approve a new defence cooperation agreement (DCA) with the United Kingdom that will include the fight against terrorism, organised crime and human trafficking.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) has been cooperating with the UK forces primarily in the defence industry, training support and exchange of students in military institutions.

Under the current agreement, the UK has provided annual training for over 1,100 KDF soldiers, with courses in Britain or with UK military training teams in Kenya.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale, however, said the current deal is narrow and does not exploit all the potential areas of collaboration for the benefit of both nations.

The draft agreement expands the potential areas of cooperation to also include security and defence policy, peacetime military activities, environmental protection, military sports, military medicine, counter-piracy and research and development.

It also covers mapping and survey and exchange of geographic materials and other areas of mutual interest which may be decided upon in future.

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“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,” Mr Duale said in a memo forwarding the agreement for ratification by Parliament. 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.

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

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 also establishes the inter-governmental liaison committee comprising of representatives of the two states, which will among other things have the power to settle all disputes and misunderstandings arising out of the implementation of the agreement.

Further training has also been provided through the UK-funded Counter-IED Wing at the Humanitarian Peace Support School (HPSS) in Embakasi.

Since its opening in 2016, over 2,000 military and police from 22 countries have been trained in CIED skills and 40 CIED instructors developed, significantly improving the ability of African Union (AU) forces to operate effectively in high-threat environments, including against Al Shabaab.

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The UK has also provided extensive support to infrastructure projects at the KDF’s School of Infantry, which include an urban village, a Forward Operating Base (FOB), and an assault course, all of which prepare more than 600 KDF personnel for deployment in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

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