How President Ruto’s military changes will affect the CDF succession

 Charles Muriu Kahariri

From left (Top ) Newly appointed Vice Chief of Defence Forces Lt Gen Charles Muriu Kahariri, Lt Gen David Tarus, Lt Gen Jimson Mutai, Lt Gen Juma Shee Mwinyikai, Lt Gen Peter Mbogo and Maj Gen John Omenda.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Lt-Gen Mwangi was named Kenya’s ambassador to Tehran.
  • Kenya Navy commander Maj-Gen Jimson Mutai was promoted to the rank of Lt-Gen.

President William Ruto on Friday named Lt-Gen Charles Muriu Kahariri as the new Vice Chief of Defence Forces (VCDF) as part of changes likely to have implications on succession in the military.

Lt-Gen Kahariri, who was a major general before his promotion yesterday, replaces Lt-Gen Jonah Mwangi who has retired after being in service for 42 years,.

Army Commander Lt-Gen Peter Mbogo Njiru also left the service after reaching retirement age. He has been in the service for 39 years.

Lt-Gen Mwangi was named Kenya’s ambassador to Tehran, Iran while Lt-Gen Njiru was named to the same position in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Lt-Gen David Tarus and Maj-Gen Thomas Ng’ang’a were named Army and Navy commanders, respectively. Maj-Gen John Omenda remains as the Kenya Air Force commander.

At the same time, Kenya Navy commander Maj-Gen Jimson Mutai was promoted to the rank of Lt-Gen and appointed the vice-chancellor of the National Defence College.

The changes announced through a press statement to newsrooms, followed a meeting of the National Defence Council under the chairmanship of Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale.

Chief of Defence Forces

With the changes, Lt-Gen Kahariri becomes the highest ranking officer in the Navy, which is poised to produce the next Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) according to rules.

The current CDF, Gen Francis Ogolla, is from the Air Force while his predecessor Gen (Rtd) Robert Kibochi was from the Kenya Army. This means that the next CDF must come from the Kenya Navy.

According to the KDF Act, the CDF, his deputy and service commanders serve a single term of four years or retire upon attaining the mandatory retirement age. Gen Ogolla is expected to hit the retirement age of 62 next year. He, however, is eligible to an additional one year at the behest of the President upon advise by the Defence Council.

Lt-Gen Kahariri could therefore replace Gen Ogolla next year, but only if he will not have attained the age of 61. Saturday Nation could not immediately establish Lt-Gen Kahariri’s age.

In the event Lt Gen Kahariri will have attained the retirement age of 61 by next year, this could pave way for the next highest military officer in the Navy to fill in the CDF post, in this case Lt-Gen Mutai. Newly promoted and appointed Maj-Gen Tomas Ng’ang’a will have to have been promoted to Lt-Gen at the time of the exit of the CDF to be eligible.

Before his appointment as the Commander, Kenya Navy, Maj-Gen Ng’ang’a was the Base Commander of the Kenya Navy Base in Manda.

“The President, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, shall (a) appoint the Chief of the Defence Forces, Vice Chief of the Defence Forces and the three Service Commanders; and (b) be responsible for the organisation and command of the Defence Forces,” the Kenya Defence Forces Act states.

Deputy commander

At the same time, President Ruto agreed with the Defence Council’s decision to promote Maj-Gen Juma Shee Mwinyikai to the rank of Lieutenant-General and appointment as the National Defence College Commandant.

Maj-Gen Mohamed Nur Hassan, currently the General Officer Commanding Border Security Command, has been posted back to the Army headquarters and named the unit’s deputy commander.

Maj-Gen Hassan will be replaced at his previous post by Maj-Gen John Maison Nkoimo, currently Joint Command and Staff College Commandant.

Brigadier Luka Kipkemoi Ruto has been promoted to Maj-Gen and named General Officer Commanding Eastern Command.

At the same time, Maj-Gen Alphaxard Muthuri Kiugu, who recently led the East African Community Regional Force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been appointed Kenya Military Academy Commandant.

Brig Peter Shikuku Chelimo has been posted to the Kenya Navy headquarters as the Navy Deputy Commander. Brig Yahya Abdi has been posted to the National Defence College and named Senior Directing Staff Navy.