Uhuru turns down UK request for military training contract extension
A move by Britain to secure an extension of a longstanding military cooperation agreement with Kenya, which expires next month, failed at State House on Thursday, the Sunday Nation has learnt.
Diplomatic sources told this newspaper that the agreement featured prominently in the talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond with the President insisting that the agreement must adhere to Kenyan law.
The Sunday Nation has established that Britain had three items lined up on the agenda of the talks.
At the top was the military cooperation agreement which allows the British Army Training Unit (BATUK) to train in Nanyuki, De La Rue’s Joint Venture Company with the Kenyan government on currency printing and intelligence sharing between Britain and Kenya.
Impeccable diplomatic sources say President Kenyatta told Mr Hammond that negotiations on De La Rue should be allowed to proceed to their conclusion without political intervention.
According to the diplomats, the issue of negative travel advisories featured when it came to intelligence sharing.
Britain is said to be willing to lift the advisories on Kenya if the government allows them access to intelligence gathered by National Intelligence Service (NIS).
However, this according to diplomats, is different from the security package between Kenya and the United States through which intelligence is shared between the two countries on a “needs be basis.”
On Saturday, the statement released by the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU) was diplomatic on the agenda that occupied the President and his guest for about two hours.
“President Kenyatta and Mr Hammond discussed issues of mutual interest to the two countries. President Kenyatta acknowledged the historical relations existing between Kenya and Britain that have enabled enhancement of trade and investment between the two countries,” a PSCU statement said.
According to the PSCU, the President was optimistic that the long-shared tradition of co-operation between the two countries would continue to flourish for mutual benefit.
“We will continue to deepen and strengthen our relationship for the benefits of our people,” Uhuru said.
Mr Hammond lauded the Kenyan government for creating an enabling business environment in the country. He also acknowledged the Jubilee government’s transformative agenda aimed at improving the livelihood of Kenyans.
On Saturday, Sunday Nation learnt that President Kenyatta is said to have maintained that the British soldiers training in Kenya must be subject to Kenyan law should they commit a crime.
According to sources, President Kenyatta is said to have told Mr Hammond that the Constitution does not allow him or anyone in the government of Kenya to sign such an agreement with Britain.
He is said to have stated that the 2010 Constitution altered the landscape and brought change Kenyans had clamoured for since independence. British sources, however, told the Sunday Nation they are certain the negotiations on the defence agreement will be concluded and signed by May.
The agreement has occupied talks between the two countries since last year when discussions boiled over into the public domain. Then, about 1,000 British soldiers were stranded in Nairobi after Kenya refused to renew the agreement that dates back to Kenya’s independence. Late last year, a short-term agreement expiring in April was reportedly signed to resolve the crisis.
The Defence Cooperation Agreement allows Britain to establish a training unit in Kenya, referred to as the British Army Training Unit Kenya [BATUK] in Nanyuki in the Rift Valley.