Kenya, Britain to review defence co-operation pact

Saturday October 04 2014

Kenya and Britain have agreed to review their long-standing Defence Co-operation Agreement after Nairobi expressed reservations with the current arrangement.

The latest memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries expires in April next year and Kenya wants the deal reviewed to be in line with the constitution.

Though the head of communication at the British High Commission in Kenya, Stephen Burns, confirmed the pending review, he denied any misunderstanding between the two countries on the pact.

“It is not that Kenya has expressed displeasure at the existing arrangements; the current memorandum of understanding expires in April 2015, and needs replacing with a new Defence Co-operation Agreement in line with Kenya’s new Constitution and Defence Forces’ Act,” said Mr Burns.

The official said the British government was ready to renegotiate with Kenya and come up with a new memorandum of understanding.

There has been disquiet in government over the MoU, with some officials saying the current arrangement was not fully benefiting both the national and county governments where the British army conducts its exercises.


Speaking during the launch of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Report 2014, recently, Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Karanja Kibicho, singled out the Kenya-Britain Defence Co-operation as one of the bilateral agreements Kenya wanted reviewed to ensure the country fully benefits as per the new constitution.

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, told a Parliamentary Committee that the two countries had agreed on the need to negotiate a new agreement. 

Ms Mohamed said Kenya will, however, conduct future bilateral relations on the basis of equality and reciprocity.

The Defence Co-operation Agreement allowed Britain to establish a training unit in Kenya, referred to as the British Army Training Unit Kenya [BATUK] in Nanyuki in the Rift Valley.  Around 10,000 British soldiers train in Kenya every year.

The agreement not only benefits Kenya but also other countries in East Africa. 

The British Peace Support Team (East Africa), for example, is based in Kenya, but provides training not only for Kenyan Security Forces, but also for the military forces of all countries within the East Africa Standby Force.