Think absolute power in Kenya, then think Major General Karangi. Of course, General Julius, has proven that being powerful is not just created rather it is something that is bestowed by those who see the characteristics in you as Kenyans now refer him as one. And if you are wondering why…read on to see for yourself
Since Jubilee came into power about 19 months ago a lot of things have changed in Kenya. Of course the most uncommon of all and perhaps the one making the most history is the advent of the politico-military power-man. Without any doubt, Major General Julius Waweru Karangi is flexing his military muscle in the political corridor.
As expected, head of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF), send off soldiers to volatile places within Kenya’s boundaries even without being in accordance with constitutional requirements of Parliament. Additionally, he has had played a key role in the raft of public (political) appointments by the Jubilee government which include new assignments in Intelligence and Immigration departments.
General Julius doesn’t seem concerned about this state of affairs which, based on legal experts, goes against Article 239(5) of the Constitution, which provides the following; “the national security organs are subordinate to civilian authority”. Clearly, President Uhuru Kenyatta is his bosom pal and usually sees Uhuru off at the airport, while parading all security officials making them to get to meet the Head of State.
He is a man of action and never gives any slight chance to a dull moment. You could call him a man of the moment. But as you already know that age forced the retirement of his heir apparent, Major General Joff Otieno of the Kenya Airforce. Even though Karangi is six years older than Joff, he is still walking strong, and perhaps will be around for a long while as those who are loyal to Jubilee are already foreseeing a greater deal for him.
Meanwhile, the four star general’s increasing influence is making a buzz in Kenya, and any public debate relating to the power he holds end up in silent. Indisputably he was in charge of the delicate change of power from Mwai Kibaki to Uhuru just last year. However, outside the knowledge of the public, Karangi is claimed to have played the major role in pushing Jubilee to power – much to the disapproval of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
We all know that General Julius is not just an ordinary high ranked soldier. But in case you are yet to know, the 64-year old Karangi top military soldier who man who has really climbed the ladder of this particular profession from the very moment he got into the barracks nearly 40 years ago. Aso, a dispatch from the Ministry of Defence shows he gathered his wide experience and training in Kenya, United Kingdom (UK), India and United States”. So what more might one expect from a man with wide range of experience? He is indeed most powerful in Kenya. Apart from his wide training, he used to be a chair person in the management of the American Military Aid to Kenya, chief of the Research Department in the Defence Headquarters, commander of an Air Defence Battalion in Kenya Air Force, liaison officer in Sarajevo (Bosnia) and in Belgrade (Serbia), senior military observer in Croatia all with the UN peacekeeper, among other international involvements. In fact you are correct to say that this man has a very fantastic resume to say the least. Needless to mention that the list of his local involvements and appointments is inexhaustible too.
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Presently, Karangi is the major figure not only in the country’s affairs or in military affairs but also in political sectors. In fact it is only a “Thomas” that would say the opposite. The KDF boss exudes political power and he is undoubtedly having a good time taking a hike in power arena. He is nothing to be compared with an ordinary senior martial man. Clearly, his holds are stronger than even the office of the Presidency of the state. General Julius has indeed gathered amassed great influence that has made it very much possible he might not be walking out of political arena anytime soon, just pay no attention to his expected retirement next year because it might never come through. Let it no longer be a puzzle to you why some powerful people have already began to thrust him in the key position in the Uhuru succession race. We all know that alone will be a threat to many politicians and even that of Deputy President William Ruto without doubt.
Most of the times, people wonder what is the secret behind his great power, but if you would remember the Westgate attack last September you would not worry your brain much about how it all came about. Yes the said attack pushed him onto the country’s political corridor. It really bestowed him the political power and visibility and also brought to the knowledge of people of Kenya that the General had influence to take decisions for the country as whole. A source at the Department of Defense (DoD), said that his decision to call in the Military at Westgate was already taken without any further agreement within the members generally, Parliament only put their ink approval on the decision weeks later, just to grant it constitutional immunity.
Although, Karangi’s role after retirement is still very much uncertain, but Jubilee apparatchiks have predicted a new multi-sectoral security unit to accommodate his departure. And this unit is expected to draw Police, NIS, Immigration and the military. Rumour has it that there is a new unit that he will head.
Now, if we should travel down the memory lane, we would remember that Prof Kindiki Kithure-fronted National Emergency Security Bill 2014 seeks to house all security operations under one roof including a Cabinet Secretary, the Attorney General, KDF boss, Inspector General of Police, NIS director, director of the National Immigration and Foreign Service, director of Criminal Investigation Service, chairperson of the Council of Governors and the Director of Public Prosecution. In the words of Prof Kindiki who wrote the bill,
“For long, we have been reactive to security issues. The new department is designed to help pre-empt security threats and thwart them before they occur. This will help make Kenya safer,”
“The service will act as a focal point to coordinate and deal with emergency situations that cause a serious threat and danger to national security and also ensure that the economic security of Kenya is not compromised.”
Based on what a retired Army colonel said,
“Picture the scenario where Karangi becomes the head of the proposed multi-sectoral unit, then he will just be above everybody else in the country. Why? “Because all “independent” security chiefs will be accountable to her/him directly. In fact the unit’s director general’s authority will be nearly equal to that of the presidency,”.
“And this, perhaps, informs some cynicism that has welcomed the Bill. Certain leaders, including Lagdera MP Mohamed Shidiye, have isolated an ominous design in the proposed law. “We are now engaged in police reforms, there is the NIS and their mandate is clear. Why should we add another structure? As they say too many cooks spoil the broth … Basically, it is untimely and we do not want to create a police state. Let every institution be properly equipped to play its part.”
Anyway, If I am allowed to contribute to this, I would say there’s a very clear strange relationship between the current appointments at the NIS, Immigration departments and Prof Kindiki’s move. More importantly, Jubilee perhaps is getting Karangi ready for a major part in determining Kenya’s future which may not be farther than 2017. Of course, considering its composition, the National Emergency Security Authority is a politico-military outfit, meaning that if he were he to be the Head, he will throw on two suits which will represent civilian and military.Maybe and just maybe he is only rehearsing for his new involvement after taking a walk out of military, he is learning how dress in civilian’s cloths.
We can go on and on without exhausting the possibility of the general to make his way right up the highest political office and gaining more domineering powers. Yes, as might be expected, chief of NIS, Wachira Kameru, and his mate at the Immigration Department Major General (rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa, are Karangi’s closest friends. As the Director of Military Intelligence), Major General Philip Wachira Kamweru holds strongly a big budget of aid from foreign donors that sorted Somalia’s transition before Kenya’s military blitzkrieg in October 2011. Therefore, Kamweru and Kihalangwa willretainn a strong position at the prospective National Emergency Security Authority if it comes to being. I think this revelation should give deputy President Ruto a big headache right? Instead Ruto regards himself as the natural political heir to president Uhuru Kenyatta, a parallel and competing political force that is invented to put General Karangi at the central point of Uhuru’s succession. So you could term it a strategic plan designed as an alternative to Ruto’s scheme.
In the words of a serving Major
“You maybe wondering the benefit to Karangi, from the appointment of Kamweru and Khalangwa, but take it for a fact, one will sort out problem where intelligence is highly needed, while the other will take care of registration of voters and issuance of identity cards. So “Once there, they will form a great back up for Karangi if he decides to seek the job. You can be sure Uhuru will be happy to see Karangi continue to play key role in Kenya’s front,”.
Also, a political analyst, Mutahi Ngunyi said:
“So, to what extent does this backdrop explain the exit of Michael Gichangi? “There has been too much struggle between Karangi and Gichangi. Even the (House) committee in which I sit of defence and foreign relations has been struggling to reconcile the two. The two have been fighting for too long,” Gem MP Jakayo Midiwo told The Standard. “Gichangi did not resign: he was fired nicely,”
We do know that the Westgate Mall attack is the bone of contention right in tyhen middle of Gichangi-Karangi quarrel. meanwhile the NIS opened up and even opened up to the media reports showing that it had warned the government seriously about the terrorist raid a year earlier, but the country’s leading security organ, National Security advisory Council, seemed to counter this position.
“Briefs were made to (National Security Council members) informing them of increasing threat of terrorism and of plans to launch simultaneous attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa around September 13 and 20, 2013,”
In all, we can only embrace the fact that Major General Karangi is sitting on the zenith of Kenya’s politics. To Jubilee, he is a person of importance who may be depended upon to play another key role in the politics during the 2017/18 electoral period. If you think the opposite, you could ask those who have extended his tenure at the DoD because they are well-aware of his sway in Kenya’s politics. So when it comes to politics in Kenya the likes of Major General Karangi comes in.