Although it has never been admitted to as official military policy, but it indeed has been the practice that ever since the 1982 failed coup led by Hezekiah Ochuka, there has been a reluctance to award officers perceived to be from opposition strongholds with top military posts.
Before the recent changes by Uhuru Kenyatta, the senior most officer from such a region was Maj-Gen George Owino, who is the commandant of the Kenya Military Academy, and the officer in charge of the Western command. While this was a huge post, commandants of military colleges often end up retiring from the force in spite of holding high ranks.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has promoted Major General Francis Ogolla to Lieutenant General and appointed him as the Vice Chief of Defence Forces.
In the changes announced, Ogolla will replace Lieutenant General Franklin Mghalu who is retiring after 40 years in service.
Ogolla who joined the Kenya Air Force in 1984 was promoted to the rank of Major General in July 2018. He had previously held various appointments in the training command.
Others who were promoted in the latest reshuffle at the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) include Major General Albert Kendagor to the rank of Lieutenant General before he was named as AMISON Force Commander while Major General William Shume will now be the Kenya Army Deputy Commander.
Of worth noting is that these changes come hot on the heels of the 2018 famed Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga. There has been talk of a merger between Jubilee party, of which the president is the leader, and the Orange Democratic Movement party, which is led by Raila Odinga.
It has been speculated among the former Prime Minister’s allies that the end goal of the merger is for Uhuru to endorse Raila.
It is expected that the recent changes in the military will be assumed to be early steps that are being taken in preparation for a possible Raila presidency.