Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party leader Raila Odinga has alleged a scheme by President William Ruto to dilute the powers of the National Security Council by establishing the office of the National Security Advisor to serve as secretary to the council.
Mr Odinga argues that, through the National Government Administration Laws Amendment Bill 2023, the Kenya Kwanza administration is seeking to undermine the country’s national security architecture.
According to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader, one of the Acts the bill seeks to amend is the National Security Council Act. Section 7 of the amendment Bill provides for the establishment of the office of the National Security Advisor.
It gives the President the mandate to nominate the National Security Advisor on the recommendation of the Public Service Commission.
The officer shall then be appointed by the President with the approval of the National Assembly. The National Security Advisor shall act as secretary to the National Security Council, a move Mr Odinga sees as aimed at influencing the decision of the critical body by the Executive.
“This new office of National Security Advisor does not fit into this structure and its creation is therefore an attempt by Kenya Kwanza to create a new national security organ outside the architecture of the Constitution,” Mr Odinga said in a statement yesterday. Article 240 of the Constitution, Mr Odiga argued, creates the National Security Council and provides for its membership.”
“The Constitution says that the secretary to the National Security Council shall be appointed by the members of the council. Parliament has no power unless through a constitutional amendment to alter this mandate. Parliament cannot appoint any person or any officer to this position. That onus is entrusted to the council by the Constitution,” the Azimio leader said.
Usurp the powers
Mr Odinga warned that, should the amendment Bill become law, the President would usurp the powers of the National Security Council.
“It will not matter what opinion the persons entrusted with our national security have as their secretary will always be determined by the President,” he says.
Mr Odinga insisted that the process of appointing a secretary to the council was a matter the Constitution felt was best handled by the council.
“The duties of this new office are not provided for and it is not stated what their role is in the organisation and administration of national security. The Constitution has already provided how national security is to be organized and administered and Kenya Kwanza seems to think that this was not sufficient.”
“We don’t see what security advice there still is to give after the defence forces, intelligence service and the police have spoken, and thereafter policies are laid out by the respective parent ministries,” added Mr Odinga.
He went on: “We can therefore foresee the [National Security Advisor] interfering with the work of the defence forces, the intelligence service and the police. This is clearly an attempt to undermine the Constitution.”
Mr Odinga warned that the occupant of the office will be “acting as a gatekeeper between the President and the other heads of the national security organs.”
“The occupant of this office is literally just a personal aide to the President with no statutory defined roles, no reporting structure and no alignment to the bureaucracy. They will in effect be acting as the prefects of all national security heads,” he said.
Kenya Kwanza, he noted, must drop its interference with the constitutional architecture of national security.
“In light of the attempts to establish a dictatorship in Kenya, Azimio will fight this latest manoeuvre to take total control of the national security machinery,” the Azimio leader said.
He noted that the Constitution has a full chapter on National Security; Chapter 14, which lays out the principles of national security and outlines, in Article 239, the national security organs.
These are the Kenya Defence Forces, the National Intelligence Service and the National Police Service, he said.
“Besides that, the Constitution provides that there will be a ministry of internal security and therefore a Cabinet secretary and a principal secretary thereof, plus a Ministry of Defence and thus also Cabinet secretary and a principal secretary thereof.”