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What you need to know:
- Technically, the country is at war after the Kenya Defence Forces’ (KDF) incursion into Somalia in 2011.
- The extension now effectively ends of the illustrious careers of both Lt-Gen Ngondi and Lt-Gen Kibochi, who will be retiring in a few months when they reach 60 years.
Days of anxiety and uncertainty within military ranks ended on Monday after President Uhuru Kenyatta extended the term of General Samson Mwathethe as Chief of Defence Forces for another year, effectively ending the military careers of the men poised to replace him.
The announcement made on Monday evening marked the end of a period of indecision, during which members of the Defence Council were divided between recommending the extension of Mwathethe’s tenure and replacing him with either Vice-Chief of Defence Forces Lt Gen Robert Kibochi or Lt Gen Leonard Ngondi, the force commander of the AU-UN Hybrid (Unamid) Operation in strife-torn Darfur in Sudan.
On Monday, members of the Defence Council returned to State House to once again brief the President after their meeting on Friday ended inconclusively after they failed to announce any changes.
After the Friday visit to State House, a senior military officer told the Nation that it had been decided that Gen Mwathethe’s term be extended a year. But despite the assurance, no announcement was made.
According to the Kenya Defence Forces Act, the President may, on the recommendation of the Defence Council, extend the CDF’s term for a period not exceeding a year in times of war or emergencies like political uncertainty.
Technically, the country is at war after the Kenya Defence Forces’ (KDF) incursion into Somalia in 2011.
But a lot seems to have transpired since Friday, as another meeting at the Department of Defence headquarters was called on Monday morning, during which another senior military official told the Nation, it had been resolved that Lt Gen Kibochi take over.
As the meetings was in progress, sources said, the military clerks responsible for handing over ceremonies were activated to start preparations for a change of guard.
But on Monday evening, the planned succession took a dramatic turn after a meeting at State House resolved to have the General Mwathethe’s term extended.
The extension now effectively ends of the illustrious careers of both Lt-Gen Ngondi and Lt-Gen Kibochi, who will be retiring in a few months when they reach 60 years.
Insiders say choosing between the two was difficult for members of the Defence Council, which comprises Defence CS Raychelle Omamo, Gen Mathethe, Defence PS Torome Saitoti and the three Service Commanders, Lt Gen Walter Raria (Kenya Army), Maj Gen Francis Ogolla (Kenya Air Force) and Maj Gen Levi Mghalu of the Kenya Navy.
The Defence Council also appoints a public officer or a member of the Defence Forces, who serves as its secretary.
Military observers view Lt Gen Kibochi and Lt Gen Ngondi as straight, strict and uncompromising commanders.