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Major General Philip Wachira Kameru is President Uhuru choice for Gichangi successor at NIS

By Cyrus Ombati | Updated Fri, August 22nd 2014 at 00:00 GMT +3
NIS Director General nominee Philip Kameru.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has nominated Major General Philip Wachira Kameru as the Director General of the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

Mr Kameru, who has been the Director of Kenya Defence Forces’ Military Intelligence will succeed Maj-Gen Michael Gichangi, who resigned last week citing personal reasons.

A decorated general, Kameru will now be the President’s chief adviser on national security and will sit in the National Security Advisory Committee and the National Security Council.

Kameru’s name was submitted to the National Assembly yesterday via a letter to the Speaker, for vetting and approval.

President Kenyatta picked the military veteran, who has served in the country's forces for the past 36 years, to run the spy agency at a time it is suffering from bad publicity as a result of the waning credibility of some of its reports among security agencies.

His nomination came alongside a list of 24 nominees to different ambassadorial positions. The nominees were picked last week.

As House Speaker Justin Muturi read the names, some MPs thumped their feet, while others gasped and yawned, but Muturi told them to listen to the President's message.

Born in Nyeri, Kameru's academic qualifications include a Master of Science in Security Management (UK) and Master of Science in National Resources Strategy (USA). He also holds a similar qualification in International Relations from the University of Nairobi.

A profile of Kameru attached to the President's letter to MPs describes the incoming Intelligence Chief as a "reliable and resourceful leader with a lot of competency in national and international security management".

"Maj-Gen Kameru is dedicated, disciplined and his loyalty and integrity are beyond reproach. He has a wealth of experience in security service management and can offer service to the nation in any top-level appointment," the profile reads in part.

Kameru is credited with the success of Kenya's intelligence-gathering in Somalia, as part of the African Mission in Somalia, it adds.

His unit, according insiders, has been key in the military successes in Somalia before and after 2011, when the troops crossed there to hunt down the Al Shabaab militants.

"Kameru has gained extensive leadership, operational and administrative experience that can certainly be useful in the direction and management of national security," the profile partly reads.

Following receipt of the nominee's name, the National Assembly has 14 days to either approve or reject his nomination. If 60 days elapse and the National Assembly shall not have either approved or rejected the nomination, he shall be considered automatically approved.

The Defence and Foreign Relations Committee will vet the nominee within 14 days and present a report to Parliament.

In his capacity as Director of Military Intelligence (DMI), Kameru spearheaded the section in a transition period following the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010.

The new DMI will be named by the military's defence council, officials said.

If Parliament approves the nomination, Kameru will become the third NIS boss to be appointed from the military after Gichangi and his predecessor, Wilson Boinet.

As the DMI, he developed an open door policy under which he embraced intelligence from even civilians, officials said.

On intelligence matters, Kameru has been trained locally and in the US. However, other sources said his nomination is part of a wider scheme to ensure military personnel head key security agencies ahead of the unveiling of a new department, Home Land Security.

The Home Land Security will be headed by the Chief of Defence Forces and its aim is to ensure there is discipline and order in the security sector.

The changes came after President Kenyatta's visit to the US during which security chiefs there are said to have demanded changes in the security sector including the police, NIS, immigration and prisons.

"The next changes will be in the police. It is a matter of time before the changes are effected," said a source.

In July, Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi also visited the US at the invitation of General Martin E Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Armed Forces.

Their discussions revolved around the security situation in the region and the various initiatives being undertaken at the regional level by IGAD, the AU and Amisom to stabilise the region.

Kameru too had been to the Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida and met with American military intelligence officers in Washington DC, as part of his training.

His appointment is likely to improve the relationship between Nairobi and Washington, after the latter expressed disappointment after Gichangi replaced Boinet in 2005.

At the NIS, sources said most officers were shocked by the announcement because they had anticipated to have one of their own named to succeed Gichangi.

"We thought we would also have one of us heading the service," said a senior official who asked not to be named.

Kenya's past intelligence chiefs are James Kanyotu and William Kivuvani.

Gichangi has been at the helm  in a transition period during which he drafted various laws to govern its operations. Under his watch, NIS changed its name from National Security and Intelligence Service (NSIS) to NIS.


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