, NAKURU, Kenya, Nov 3 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has affirmed Kenya’s decision to withdraw its troops and disengage fully from the South Sudan Peace Process.
President Kenyatta said Kenya is committed to regional and global peace but that should not come at the expense of the country’s dignity, honour and pride.
“I must state very clearly that Kenya serves in these missions not because we have to, but because from the time of our independence we have been clear in our understanding and our desire for global peace and stability in the full recognition that as part of the international community, regional and global peace also mean peace for Kenya,” President Kenyatta said.
The President was speaking today when he presided over the Kenya Defence Forces officer cadets’ commissioning parade at the Kenya Military Academy, Lanet in Nakuru County.
He said the decision to withdraw from the peace process follows events involving the United Nations Mission to South Sudan that led the United Nations Secretariat to place the blame for a systemic failure on an individual Kenyan commander.
“We know that the people of this region want peace in South Sudan. But we also know that peace will not come to South Sudan by blaming a Kenyan commander for the wider failings of the Mission to South Sudan,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta said the Government also intends to withdraw Kenyan troops from the mission with immediate effect and discontinue Kenya’s contribution of troops to the proposed Regional Protection Force.
“For our part, we will no longer contribute to a mission that has failed to meet its mandate, and which has now resorted to scapegoating Kenyans,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta observed that Kenya has contributed some of the most distinguished commanders to the peacekeeping missions including Lieutenant General Daniel Opande who was Force Commander in Sierra Leone and Lieutenant General Ngondi who was a Force Commander in Liberia among others.
“Our men served with honour, with valour and with complete professionalism. And let it not be forgotten that some lost their lives in these missions,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta congratulated the graduating cadets for completing a rigorous program that tested them in body and mind.
“You have passed the test and I trust that the skills you have learned, and the character this program has formed in you, will prove of enduring value to you and to your country,” the President said.
The President observed that the graduating cadets were joining the Defence Forces at a defining moment in the country’s military history when they will be called upon to fight terrorists and extremist groups who threaten the way of life at home and globally.
“We have fought them in Somalia, and we will continue to meet their cowardice with our courage knowing that the balance of both military and moral power is in our favour,” he said.
President Kenyatta added: “We will fight until these evil groups are destroyed. Make no mistake: we will win this war.”
He said the newly commissioned cadets will also be asked to join their compatriots to protect peace, saying Kenya has a long and proud history of keeping the peace across the world.
Since 1979, Kenyans have served in peacekeeping missions across the world: from Chad to Iran, Macedonia to Mozambique and from Sierra Leone to Sudan. Currently more than 6,000 officers and men are serving the peace missions.
Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Samson Mwathethe, services commanders and Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua also attended the event.