President Ruto appoints Gen Charles Kahariri as new military chief

Thursday May 02 2024
Lt-Gen Charles Muriu Kahariri

Kenya's newly appointed Chief of Defence Forces General Charles Muriu Kahariri. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Kenya’s President William Ruto has promoted Lieutenant General Charles Muriu Kahariri to the rank of General and appointed him Chief of Defence Forces (CDF).

He now takes over the post left vacant following the death of Gen Francis Ogolla in a helicopter crash. 

At the same time, the current Kenya Army Commander, Maj-Gen John Mugaravai Omenda, has been promoted to the rank of Lt-Gen and named Vice Chief of Defence Forces. 

In another first, Maj-Gen Fatuma Gaiti Ahmed has been promoted to Kenya Air Force Commander becoming the first-ever woman service commander. In 2018, she became the first woman-ranked major-general.

More roles

Other appointments include that of Maj-Gen Thomas Ng’ang’a, currently Kenya Navy commander, to the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration and Finance, at the National Defence University-Kenya.


Read: Kenya army chief who sought peace via diplomacy

He will be replaced by Maj-Gen Paul Owuor Otieno, who takes over as the new navy chief.

Brigadier Peter Nyamu Githinji has been promoted to the rank of Maj-Gen and appointed Senior Directing Staff, Air at the National Defence College.

Other promotions are Brigadier Jattani Kampare Gula and Brigadier George Okumu to major-generals and appointed managing directors of Kenya Meat Commission and Kenya Ordinance Factories Corporation and Food Processing Factory, respectively.

Brigadier Samuel Kipkosgei Korir has been named Deputy Commander, Kenya Air Force. 

Lt-Gen Jimson Longiro Mutai will remain the Vice Chancellor of National Defence University-Kenya, Lt-Gen David Kimaiyo Tarus (Kenya Army Commander), and Lt-Gen Juma Shee Mwinyikai (Commandant of the National Defence College).

Read: Ruto makes cabinet reshuffles

New army chief

Before his promotion to the second highest rank in the military, Lt-Gen Kahariri was deputy commandant National Defence College.

Only the Kenya Army Commander is in the rank of a Lt-Gen, with his counterparts commanding their units in the rank of major-general.

Following major reforms led by former Kenya Defence Forces Chief of Staff Daudi Tonje, who served under former President Daniel arap Moi, the Chief of Defence Forces rotates between the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Gen Ogolla was from the Kenya Airforce, while his predecessor Gen Robert Kariuki Kibochi was from the Kenya Army and Gen Samson Mwathethe, before him, was from the Kenya Navy.

Term of office

The KDF Act says a CDF, his deputy and service commanders shall serve a single term of four years or retire upon attaining the mandatory retirement age.

The Act, however, allows the President, on the recommendation of the National Defence Council, to extend the CDF’s term for a period not exceeding one year.

A general’s retirement age is 62, while that of Lt-Gen is 61, and Maj-Gen and Brigadier retire at 59 and 57, respectively.

“The President may remove, retire or redeploy the Chief of the Defence Forces, the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces or any of the Service Commanders at any time before the expiry of the term of office,” the Act says.

Read: Kenya sets up fund for peacekeeping missions

Seniority matters

Besides age, seniority also plays a role in the appointment of a four-star general.

“In appointing the Chief of the Defence Forces, the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces and the three Service Commanders, the President shall take into account— seniority; military and formal civil education; the possession of a relevant degree from a university or an institution recognised in Kenya or such other equivalent qualifications as may be approved by the Defence Council; and military and security experience,” the KDF Act says.

The Defence Council recommends names to the head of State and is chaired by the Defence Cabinet Secretary, currently Aden Duale. Members of the council are the CDF, the three service commanders (Army, Navy and Airforce), and the Defence Principal Secretary, currently held by Patrick Mariru.

The council is responsible for the overall policy, control, and supervision of the Kenya Defence Forces and advises the President on KDF matters.