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Kenya in defence pact with South Africa

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Kenya Defence Forces soldiers at the Kismayu port. file photo | nmg

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Summary

  • The deal will see the two countries jointly fight terrorism, organised international crime, and human and drug trafficking.
  • It comes at a time of strained diplomatic ties between the two countries following the leakage last week of a travel alert issued by Kenya’s Foreign ministry.
  • The pact provides a framework for widening regional collaboration and co-operation.

Kenya has signed a defence co-operation pact with South Africa that will see the two countries jointly fight terrorism, organised international crime, and human and drug trafficking.

The agreement, tabled in Parliament for ratification last week by Majority Leader Aden Duale, comes at a time of strained diplomatic ties between the two countries following the leakage last week of a travel alert issued by Kenya’s Foreign ministry.

The ministry sent a statement a day after the leakage of the memo claiming the advisory was only meant for senior government officials.

In the leaked travel alert, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Foreign affairs, Monica Jum, advised senior government officials to take precaution when visiting South Africa.

The defence co-operation deal was inked at State House Nairobi during last year’s State visit by South African President Jacob Zuma.

Defence secretary Raychelle Omamo and her South African counterpart, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, signed the agreement on October 11 on behalf of the two governments.

The pact provides a framework for widening regional collaboration and co-operation.

“The co-operation framework for exchange, sharing and utilisation of the respective State’s experience, knowledge, military facilities and infrastructure will be instrumental in strengthening bilateral relations between the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of South Africa,” Ms Omamo says in the memorandum to the National Assembly.

READ: Kenya's travel advisory may revive diplomatic row with SA

Negotiations between the two governments started in 2007 but was subjected to scrutiny by the Attorney-General and approval for signing by the Cabinet on October 11.

The deal includes development and implementation of the security and defence policy, exchange of military information and encouragement and facilitation of industrial cooperation between the two countries.

It also provides for collaboration in defence-related research, development and procurement of equipment, military medical health service, counter-piracy and other maritime safety activities.

Dr Juma cited a rising wave of crime and possibility of attacks in the streets, increased cases of armed robberies, carjackings, theft, burglary, kidnap, rape and mugging.

South Africa has grappled with sporadic but violent xenophobic attacks since 2008 as its army of unemployed youth blame foreigners for the country’s high level of joblessness.