Raila cautions against security legislation

Opposition leader Raila Odinga. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has told the Kenya Kwanza administration to drop attempts to undermine the National Security architecture of the country by creating the position of the National Security Advisor.

In a stinging statement sent to newsrooms on Monday, the ODM leader vowed to fight what he describes as the latest manoeuvres by the Ruto administration through amendments to existing laws to take over control of the country's national security machinery.

Raila termed the National Government Administration Laws Amendment Bill, 2023, a miscellaneous statute amendment Bill that seeks to amend several laws regarding national administration with one of the Acts seeking to amend the National Security Council Act, as unconstitutional and untenable.

He said the Constitution of Kenya has a full chapter on National Security; Chapter 14, and lays out the principles of National Security which provides, in Article 239, the national security organs, these being the Kenya Defence Forces, the National Intelligence Service and the National Police Service.

Raila said that besides that, the Constitution provides that there will be a Ministry of Internal Security and therefore a Cabinet Secretary and a Principal Secretary thereof, plus a Ministry of Defence and thus also a Cabinet Secretary and a Principal Secretary thereof.

 “This new office of National Security Advisor does not fit into this structure and its creation is therefore an attempt by Kenya Kwanza to create a new national security organ outside the architecture of the Constitution. Article 3(2) of the Constitution provides that any attempt to establish a government otherwise than in compliance with the Constitution is unlawful” said Raila.

The Opposition Leader pointed out that Article 240 of the Constitution creates the National Security Council and provides for its membership with the Constitution saying that the Secretary to the National Security Council shall be appointed by the members of the Council.

Raila said that Parliament has no power unless through a Constitutional amendment to alter this mandate, Parliament cannot appoint any person or any office to this position with that onus entrusted to the Council by the Constitution.

He said that The net effect of the amendment bill providing for the Secretary of the Council is that the President will have usurped the powers of the Council and it will not matter what opinion the persons entrusted with our national security have with their Secretary always be determined by the President.

“The membership of the National Security Council is not cavalier; it comprises of the senior most State Officers who are entrusted with the most solemn of duties; to oversight all national security organs. The obligation to appoint a Secretary to the council can therefore not be taken as a routine duty. It must involve security concerns and therefore was a matter left by the Constitution as better handled by the Council,” said Raila.

 The former Prime Minister said that the duties of this new office are not provided and it is not stated what their role is in the organization and administration of national security since the Constitution has already provided how national security is to be organized and administered and Kenya Kwanza seems to think that this was not sufficient.

Raila said there was no security advice to give after the defence forces, intelligence service and the police have spoken, and thereafter policies are laid out by the respective parent ministries and there was a likelihood for the occupant interfering with the work of the defence forces, the intelligence service and the police.

 The former Prime Minister said this is clearly an attempt to undermine the Constitution of Kenya with the occupant of this position acting as a gatekeeper between the President and the other heads of the national security organs.

“The occupant of this office is literally just a personal aide to the President with no statutory defined roles, no reporting structure and no alignment to the bureaucracy. They will in effect be acting as the prefects of all national security heads,” said Raila.