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President Uhuru Kenyatta accorded grand military farewell

Exiting President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Ulinzi Sports Complex, Nairobi. [Stanford Odengo]

President Uhuru Kenyatta was on Friday, September 9 accorded military farewell as he exits the stage as Kenya’s Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.

The ceremony held at the Ulinzi Sports Complex in Nairobi marked the near end of President Kenyatta’s relationship with the military as their boss, as he prepares to hand over power to his successor, William Ruto, on Tuesday, September 13.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), made up of the Army, Navy and the Air Force, performed the final honours, including a military parade, entertainment and aerial display.

The president later rode in a ceremonial military vehicle that was pulled by soldiers out of the Department of Defence Headquarters, Hurlingham, symbolising the end of his era as the military’s topmost chief.

Twenty KDF men and women did the pulling.

In his address to the military personnel after the four-hour Ulinzi Sports Complex ceremony,  President Uhuru said he was happy to have served them as their commander-in-chief for ten years.

The Head of State hailed KDF as a professional unit that did everything possible to secure Kenya’s borders.

At the same time, he said KDF effectively ran government agencies placed under its stewardship.

Before his speech, Kenyatta led the military men and women in paying respects to United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II, who died aged 96 on Thursday, September 8.

The attendees of the farewell function observed a one-minute silence in honour of the departed English monarch.

‘Thank you for your support’

The  president observed that were it not for the seamless working relationship with the KDF, he wouldn’t have posted commendable achievements as president.

“The military’s commitment has been priceless in my quest to fulfil the Big 4 Agenda, as they have been instrumental in the actualisation of several government projects, including the construction of military and police hospitals, where they offer specialised treatment to wananchi,” Kenyatta said.

The president said throughout his leadership, he’s been a champion of women empowerment and gender equity.

He said that in his Cabinet, he hired a high number of women as Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Chief Administrative Secretaries.

At the same time, he said he promoted several women to senior ranks in the disciplined forces.

In his scorecard report, Kenyatta also said he invested heavily in security resources, much to the benefit of Kenyans.

“With that (investment in the security sector), we ensured our national safety through your (KDF) efforts. The geostrategic military installations across the country have greatly improved the security of, not only Kenya but also the East African region,” he said.

Kenyatta, who attended the ceremony with First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, received gifts, including animal paintings, carvings and golfing gear, from the military personnel.

The Head of State was also treated to a special luncheon by KDF, organised by Major Robert Kibochi, the Chief of Defence Forces.

“KDF hurray! I will miss you,” the president said.

The elaborate ceremony was attended by Cabinet secretaries Eugene Wamalwa (Defence), Monica Juma (Energy), Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs), former Chiefs of Defence Forces Julius Karangi and Samson Mwathethe, among others.