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Opposition leaders call for US backing for KDF withdrawal from Somalia

Storyline:National News

CORD leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka held discussions with visiting US senators and Representatives on Friday evening.
During the dinner meeting hosted by Raila Odinga at his home for the visiting legislators, the two groups discussed the upcoming visit to Kenya by US President Barack Obama and Kenya’s security challenges and war on terror.
The Opposition leaders welcomed President Obama’s “long overdue homecoming” and promised him a warm welcome.
Raila and Kalonzo impressed on the US to help Kenya tackle its security challenges by rallying the international community to play an increased active role in the stabilsation of Somalia.
The Kenyan leaders particularly asked the US to rally the international community to rally other countries to move into Somalia and facilitate the withdrawal of the Kenyan troops from Somalia.
Raila 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,” Raila said.
Kalonzo, a former Vice President who also served as Kenya’s foreign Minister while Somalia collapsed, reiterated that a withdrawal from Somalia would not be a matter of cowardice or abdication of international obligations by Kenya but a strategic move in national interest.
“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 reorganize and restrategise. That is what we are asking our country to do,” Kalonzo said. The two opposition leaders extolled the broad strategic and global partnership between the United States and Kenya. But they emphasized that Kenya’s significance as a strategic partner to the US and global community is getting severely jeopardized by rising threat of terrorism, adding that it is in US interest to help Kenya with its security challenges. Among those who attended the dinner meeting were US Senators Chris Coons of Delaware and his New York counterpart Kristen Gillibrand. Kenyan senators James Orengo and Johnstone Muthama, MPs Joyce Lay, who is the ODM secretary for international affairs and the party’s chairman John Mbadi also attended.