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Civil Military Relations in an Era of Violent Extremism

Policy Options for The Kenya Defense Forces

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for democratic governance of the security sector through establishing accountability and oversight measures in its fourteenth chapter on national security and relevant subsidiary legislation. In theory, the concept of civilian oversight over the National Police Service (NPS), Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and National Intelligence Service (NIS) are anchored in the National Assembly, the office of the Cabinet Secretary responsible for national defence, (the Executive) and in some specific instances oversight authorities and commissions. With specific regard to the KDF, the Constitution, and the Kenya Defense Forces Act are particularly clear, regulating the conduct of the military internally, through the court martial process and externally through the penal process. Civil military relations are tightly governed through the National Assembly.

However, this robust security legislative framework has been tested in the recent past. Owing to the changing nature of security challenges in Kenya, and in particular terrorism attributed to Al-Shabaab, the military has been deployed on several occasions either to respond to terrorism incidents or to pre-empt terror threats within the country.

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