, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22 – President Mwai Kibaki has expressed confidence in the Kenya Armed Forces’ ability to defend the country against external aggression.
In an apparent reference to the ongoing dispute over the ownership of the Migingo Island the President however said diplomacy will always be the first line of action.
Noting that the main purpose of the armed forces is to secure the country’s national borders, President Kibaki said Kenya will use every means to defend her national integrity and the welfare of her people.
“As stated previously, our first line of action must always be diplomacy, as a means to advancing peace in our region and the world,” President Kibaki said.
The Head of State, however, said as a nation Kenya will continue to seek peaceful co-existence with her neighbours.
President Kibaki was speaking at the Kenya Military Academy in Nakuru where he presided over the officer cadets commissioning parade.
The President underscored the need for the country to remain vigilant in order to ensure the security of Kenyans, saying security threats in the modern world are varied and sophisticated.
He observed that the situation in some of the neighbouring countries remains fluid and poses security challenges, particularly relating to the inflow of illicit arms into the country.
“Moreover, vessels sailing along the Indian Ocean are under continuous threat from pirates. In the last one year several ships have been hijacked along the East African coast posing unprecedented threat to sea transport,” the President said.
At the regional level, President Kibaki said the Kenya Armed Forces have continued to be involved in the activities of the East African Standby Brigade with a view to building capacity in conflict pre-emption and management.
At the international level, the President said the armed forces have continued to take part in various peacekeeping initiatives.
“In addition, our Armed Forces have continued to train security personnel from the region and other parts of the world on peacekeeping and humanitarian demining,” the President said.
Noting that Kenya’s involvement in regional and international security efforts has earned the armed forces a proud reputation, President Kibaki urged the newly commissioned officer cadets to uphold and guard that reputation throughout their military career.
The Head of State also commended the military for rendering civilian and humanitarian services to Kenyans whenever they are called to do so.
The President cited the construction of roads and schools, provision of medical services and drilling of boreholes as some of the military’s involvement in civilian activities.
“Moreover, the Armed Forces have continued to participate in environmental conservation. I am happy to note that the Armed Forces planted over two million trees over the last two years and plan to plant over two million this year in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and the Green Belt Movement,” the President said.
He, therefore, challenged the newly commissioned officer cadets to strengthen the tradition of civic and humanitarian services to the country and contribute towards the realization of the country’s VISION 2030.