, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 12 – Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka have appealed to the United States to assist Kenya exit Somalia.
They further requested a visiting US delegation to rally other countries to move to Somalia and facilitate the withdrawal of Kenyan troops deployed to quell the Al Shabaab.
The two leaders made the request when they held discussions with US Senators and Congressmen who are in the country ahead of the visit by US President Barrack Obama in June this year.
Odinga explained that Kenya moved into Somalia to drive Al Shabaab from its borders and not to be in the country forever.
“We moved in there out of frustration and a feeling that the international community was too slow or unconcerned to come to our aid and so we needed to take care of ourselves. It is our position in Opposition that we now need to retreat and concentrate on securing our borders. We appeal to the US to mobilise other countries that do not share a border with Somalia to move in and let Kenya move out,” Odinga said.
According to Musyoka, withdrawal of Kenyan troops from Somalia is not a cowardice move but a strategy to protect Kenya from terror attacks.
“I have been involved with Somalia for long. I witnessed the withdrawal of US troops when it became clear that Operation Restore Hope was becoming a disaster. The US was not running away. It was making a strategic retreat to reorganise and re-strategise. That is what we are asking our country to do,” Musyoka said.
Odinga and Musyoka’s talks widely focused on helping Kenya tackle the security situation mainly linked to the Al Shabaab terror group.
According to the two leaders, the appalling attacks witnessed in Kenya especially in the last two years could have a deep bearing on Kenya’s presence in Somalia.
In their view, the US should support initiatives and double its efforts in helping in the stablisation of Somalia which is Kenya’s direct neighbour on the North.
In October, 2011, former President Mwai Kibaki and ex-Prime Minister Odinga agreed deploy Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to Somalia under the banner ‘Operation Linda Nchi’ as a means of defending Kenya from attacks by Somali insurgents.
The entry of KDF troops was in response to activities of the Al Shabaab militants who were accused of kidnapping several people, including foreigners from Kenya.
Since entry into Somalia, KDF and AMISOM captured several Al Shabaab strongholds including Kismayu.
The Westgate attack in 2013 left about 67 dead, while the Mpeketoni attack saw Kenya lose over 100 people and the biggest of them all in the recent past was the Garissa University College attack that left 148 people dead with 142 of them being students.
After most of the attacks, Al Shabaab attackers claim that they kill Kenyans because KDF soldiers are killing their people in Somalia.
In the Garissa attack, parents of the victims claimed that their daughters and sons called them before they were killed and asked them to tell the president to remove KDF from Somalia.
On the other hand, security experts have warned that if Kenya removes its troops from Somalia, the attacks would be more and even on a larger scale.