Lt. Gen Francis Ogolla, first Luo as Chief of Defense Forces in 2023?

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In 2002, President Daniel Moi was very concerned with the transition within the leadership of the country’s defense forces. It was for this reason that the then Lt. Gen Joseph Kibwana oversaw the smooth transfer of power when Mwai Kibaki’s administration took over after the late President Moi retired in 2022.

Gen. Kibwana was the first Navy officer to head the Kenyan military and was in office up to 2006, when President Mwai Kibaki appointed Lt. General Jeremiah Kianga who played a critical role in stabilising Mwai Kibaki’s regime, especially during the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

General Kianga retired from service in July 2011, and he was immediately replaced by General Julius Waweru Karangi a Nyeri native from the Kenya Airforce who served in the last two years of Mwai Kibaki’s administration and the first two years when Uhuru Kenyatta of Jubilee took over as president in 2013 to 2015.

From 2015 for five years General Samson Mwathethe from the Navy was at the helm. It was also during this time that the then opposition led by Raila Odinga claimed there were trails of evidence showing the military’s involvement in the elections, allegations the government vehemently denied.

When General Mwathethe’s term ended in May 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed General Robert Kariuki Kibochi (who was next in line) from the Army to replace Gen Mwathethe. Gen Kibochi is due to retire in early 2023.

According to the country’s traditions, the next Chief of Defense Forces should come from the Kenya Airforce (KAF).

Yesterday’s promotion of Francis Ogolla to Lt. General and subsequent appointment as Vice Chief of Defense Forces puts him at a vintage position of being the first Luo Chief of Defense Forces. The highest Luo to reach his rank was Lt. Gen Opande. This means, should things remain as they are, Kenya will have its first Luo serving as Chief of Defense Forces in 2023.

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