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I will pull out Kenyan troops from Somalia if elected President- Odinga

Storyline:National News, World
NASA Presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga responding to questions during the 90 minute debate Monday night. Image: Media Debates Kenya

Kenya will effect a strategic pull out from Somalia and station its troops at the borders should the official opposition bag the Presidency in the August 8 polls, opposition chief Raila Odinga said Monday night as he debated himself in a 90 minute round which his main rival President Uhuru Kenyatta gave a wide berth.

Odinga who is giving his forth stab on the presidency and running on the National Super Alliance (NASA) ticket said he would, if elected president pull the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) which are currently serving in the African Union force, Amisom from inside Somalia to man the border.

“We need to withdraw our troops strategically from Somalia to our border and seal our border and provide strategic support to Amisom troops inside Somalia,” Odinga said.

The Presidential contender said his government would boost homeland intelligence to curtail any terror attacks particularly from the al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Shabaab. He noted that Kenya would have avoided Al-Shabaab attacks had it adhered to the African Union resolution which warned of retaliatory attacks on neighbouring countries should they deploy their forces inside Somalia.

His main challenger Uhuru Kenyatta skipped the debate even as the organisers of the event and Kenyans following the debates kept hope alive that the President would attend after signaling his availability during online interactions earlier.

Pictures from State House Nairobi showed Kenyatta watching the debate alongside his deputy William Ruto and a group which had visited him.

Odinga, the son of Kenya’s doyen of opposition Jaramogi Odinga has previously suggested the recognition of Somalia’s break-away region of Somaliland. Speaking at the British think tank Chatham House last July, Odinga indicated he was a supporter of Somaliland sparking criticism from Mogadishu.

“I myself I am a strong supporter of the recognition of Somaliland… I think there is a very strong case,” said Odinga.

Earlier, three presidential candidates-two independents-Prof Michael Wainaina and Dr Japheth Kavinga Kaluyu  and Dr Ekuru Aukot of Third Way Alliance battled out in a 90 minute debate as they sought to convince Kenyans to endorse them in the much awaited August 8 poll. The candidates did not meet the 5% threshold from the opinions polls which would have allowed them join the Kenyatta-Odinga club in the Presidential Debate.

Kenyans will head to the polls in barely two weeks’ time in what is billed as the most expensive election in the continent. President Kenyatta will be defending his seat while Odinga, a former Prime Minister and a key figure in Kenya’s politics will be giving his last shot. Should Odinga lose, he will be bow out from Presidential race which he first attempted in 1997.