Kenya: Omamo Poised to Be First Woman in Charge of Kenyan Defence

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Kenya: Omamo Poised to Be First Woman in Charge of Kenyan Defence

Nairobi — Raychelle Awuor Omamo could become East Africa’s first woman secretary of defence if her nomination is approved by parliament, which started the vetting process Wednesday (May 8th).

Omamo is among several women on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s partial list of presidential cabinet appointments released on April 25th.

If the National Assembly — which Kenyatta’s Jubilee Coalition overwhelmingly controls — approves her appointment, Omamo would become one of Kenya’s most powerful and influential women.

As defence secretary, she would be a member of Kenya’s National Security Council (NSC), and would be the top civilian in charge of the military after the president.

Omamo most recently served as the Kenyan ambassador to France. She previously served as ambassador to Portugal, Vatican City, Serbia, and as Kenya’s permanent delegate to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

She holds a law degree from the University of Kent and has 27 years of experience as an advocate in the High Court of Kenya, where she is now senior counsel. She was the first woman to chair the Law Society of Kenya.

Kenyatta has said he wants to ensure that both men and women receive equal opportunities in his cabinet.

Other nominated women include Anne Waiguru for secretary of devolution and planning, Charity Kaluki Ngilu for secretary of land, housing and urban development, Phyllis Jepkosgei Kipkingor-Kandie for secretary of East African affairs, commerce and tourism, and Judi Wangalwa Wakhungu for secretary of environment, water and natural resources.

“We are a nation of equal opportunities; we will ensure equal opportunities for all,” Kenyatta said. “[Omamo] has wide experience in many areas. That experience she brings especially in our defence is responsible for engagements with the rest of the world.”

Omamo acknowledged the importance of her nomination as defence secretary, and said she looks forward to working with the president and the rest of the cabinet to defend Kenya and its borders.

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