800 soldiers have deserted Kenya Defence Forces since 2011
Mombasa, Kenya: The Kenya Defence Forces has lost 800 soldiers since 2011, a State lawyer has disclosed.
This comes as the military warns that desertions will be severely punished to deter those stationed in Somalia and other missions from leaving.
The shocking disclosure, which is said to have raised concerns among top military officers, was made at the Court of Appeal in Malindi last evening.
The State is attempting to overturn a High Court ruling issued last week by Justice Edward Mureithi in Mombasa that suspended three court martials trying 26 former naval servicemen for deserting the military in 2007 and 2008.
Last evening, the Court of Appeal rejected an application by State lawyer Mwangi Njoroge who is representing Defence Cabinet Secretary Rachel Omamo seeking the immediate reversal of Justice Muriithi’s suspension of the military trials.
The Appellate Court instead ordered State lawyers to return to the High Court in Mombasa to convince Justice Muriithi to give them a stay order.
State lawyer Alex Muteti who is representing the military courts, the Commander of the Mtongwe naval base and Chief of Defence Forces Gen Julius Karangi, disclosed the desertions as the Appeal Court rejected an application to reverse Justice Muriithi’s April 30 verdict.
Muteti, who was flanked by several top military officials, did not provide details or reasons for the desertions but indicated that punishing the 26 ex-servicemen will deter future desertions and stem negative influences on serving soldiers.
He insisted that Kenya is at war after the Kenya Defence Forces entered Somalia in October 2011 to fight Al-Shabaab militants as the Court of Appeal judges questioned why the military authorities had refused to obey a court order setting the 26 suspects free on bail.
The soldiers have sued Karangi, Omamo and Navy Commander Maj Gen Ngewa Mukala. Muteti told the Court of Appeal in Malindi that if the trend was left to continue, KDF soldiers in Somali will be demoralised.
“We have lost 800 soldiers since Kenya went to war with Somali and that is why these soldiers must be tried in the court martial so that those serving the country’s interest in Somali are not demoralised,” said Muteti.