Why Daniel Moi Will Not Get 21-gun Salute During Burial

Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua, on Thursday revealed intricate details on the burial plans for the late retired president Daniel Moi, including the fact that the deceased will be accorded a full military funeral.

Part of what caught the attention of Kenyans from the government’s announcement was that the former ruler, who enjoyed a 24-year term, would be sent off with a 19-gun salute.

This is contrary to the common 21-gun salute accorded to presidents from around the world.

The number of weapons fired during the military practice, which is preceded by the deceased’s body being transported in a gun carriage and lowered into the designated grave, depends on the status of the person in question.

The highest honour, the 21-gun salute, is reserved for heads of state who die while in power.

As the leadership rank drops, the number of weapons fired also reduces by two for each rank, with the five gun salute being the lowest honour.

Since Mzee Moi died having retired from power, he will receive the second-highest honour.

The only instance in which Moi would have received the presidential 21-gun salute would have been if the burial committee decided that the leader be buried dressed in military wear, for his role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, during his presidency.

This is, however, a practice mostly reserved for presidents who die in power.

The late Mzee Moi inspecting a guard of honour during a past state event

The same protocol applies to living state officials.

For example, when the then US President Barack Obama visited Kenya in 2015, he was treated to a 21 gun salute, while other leaders from around the world, such as Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former British Prime Minister Theresa May, who also visited the country previously, were honoured with the 19 gun salute.

Other differences between Moi’s burial process, in comparison to the process that was followed when Kenya’s founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died while in office, include the national mourning period, and the number of days set aside for the body to lie in state.

In Mzee Kenyatta’s case, the national mourning period lasted a whole month, while Moi’s mourning period will last seven days.

Kenyatta’s body lay in state for seven days, while Moi’s will lie in state for three days.

The late ex-president is set to be buried on Wednesday.

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