, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 30 – The Memorandum of Understanding that would set out the terms for the continued training of British troops on Kenyan soil is almost a done deal according to a UK government official.
The question of jurisdiction over British troops training on Kenyan soil and Kenyan troops training on British soil, the official admitted, was the most difficult to navigate.
The “standard” MOU which has previously been renewed every five years has taken longer to ratify this time round as it is the first time it’s being renewed under the current Constitution.
This time round provisions have been added to assure the Kenyan government that British soldiers training in Kenya are accountable, although the senior official was at pains to make clear that at no point have British soldiers training in Kenya enjoyed immunity from prosecution.
“As is the international standard, a British soldier who commits a crime on Kenyan soil while off duty is prosecuted under Kenyan law. If they commit the crime while on duty they’re subjected to a court-martial under the British military code,” they UK official told Capital FM News.
Under the new agreement however, the British soldiers would be tried in Kenya and investigations be carried out jointly by British and Kenyan investigators.
Kenyan authorities, the official said, would also have access to British military training bases and be free to inspect any equipment brought into the country for those purposes. “But let’s be clear, these training exercises are not done in seclusion and many times are joint exercises between British and Kenyan forces.”
The existing agreement has been extended for another six months from October to allow for the ratification of its successor.
There’s been wide speculation on whether Britain and Kenya would successfully reach a Defence Co-operation Agreement that would see British troops continue to train in Kenya.
“There’s been this false impression created that we have Brits wandering Laikipia in a lawless fashion,” the official said.
A situation which, they argued couldn’t be further from the truth. The official said communities in Nanyuki and Samburu economically benefited from the troops as does the Kenyan economy as a whole to the tune of Sh8.7 billion annually.