Khalwale, Mudavadi renew calls for KDF exit from Somalia


khalwale and Uhuru Kenyatta

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale have renewed calls for the withdrawal of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers from Somalia.

Speaking at Lurambi in Kakamega County on Saturday, Khalwale called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to take notes from Uganda’s plan to withdraw its soldiers from the war-tone country by 2017 and set up an exit strategy for its defence forces.

“We do not know what we are defending in Somalia. KDF soldiers should be withdrawn from the country and deployed along Kenyan borders,” said Khalwale.

Similar sentiments were made by Mudavadi, who called on the government to follow through with the repatriation of Somali refugees and the withdrawal of KDF soldiers from Somalia.

“If the government argues that Somalia has stabilised enough for refugees to be safe upon return, then there will be no reason to keep our forces in Somalia,” said Mudavadi in a statement to newsrooms on Sunday.

“The government owes it to Kenyans to explain why we should retain our forces there if the country is safe enough for refugees to return”, said Mudavadi.

The Amani leader however raised concerns over Kenya’s threat to withdraw from Amisom, saying the decision should not be driven by emotions over unfulfilled financial pledges by the international community.

“Kenya didn’t enter Somalia to please anyone but to protect the country from external aggression. The government should not therefore engage in a hasty withdrawal because we are annoyed with somebody. That would be naïve and counterproductive”, he said.

He further noted that the country’s decision to repatriate the refugees should not be driven by foreign countries, noting that every move should be made with the safety and security of the country in consideration.

The calls come days after Al Shabaab militants attacked a police vehicle that was escorting a passenger bus between Kotulo and Elwak towns in Mandera County leaving five officers dead and four injured.

The Kenyan Forces entered Somalia in 2011, under the security programme dubbed Operation Linda Nchi after a number of invasions and attacks by the Islamist group Al Shabaab.

Ever since, there have been raging debates on whether the presence of KDF soldiers is beneficial to the country’s security with the Westgate attack in 2013, an attack on a Nairobi-bound bus in Mandera in 2014, last year’s attacks at Garissa University as well an ambush on a KDF camp in El Adde this year blowing up the issue further.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has however remained firm on the issue saying he would not withdraw the Kenyans soldiers from Somalia until the country is safe.

@benjaminwafula

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