Pull out of Somalia: Leaders

Saturday April 4 2015

From left: Kisumu East MP Shakeel Shabir, Cord leader Raila Odinga’s wife, Ida and Siaya Senator James Orengo during the burial of Grace Akinyi Ogot in Gem, on April 4, 2015. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO |

From left: Kisumu East MP Shakeel Shabir, Cord leader Raila Odinga’s wife, Ida and Siaya Senator James Orengo during the burial of Grace Akinyi Ogot in Gem, on April 4, 2015. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By SILAS APOLLO
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By ANITA CHEPKOECH
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Senior Cord politicians have called for the withdrawal of Kenyan soldiers from Somalia in the wake of Thursday’s terrorist attack in Garissa.

The leaders, who spoke at the funeral of former Gem MP and respected writer Grace Akinyi Ogot in Siaya County, said the continued stay of Kenyan troops in Somalia was to blame for the frequent attacks in the country.

The leaders were responding to the massacre of 148 people by the Al-Shabaab militants at Garissa University College.

Leaders across the country and the world, including US President Barack Obama who called for action to secure the country, have expressed outrage over the attack.

Cord leaders Raila Odinga and Moses Wetang’ula led Senators James Orengo (Siaya) and Elizabeth Ongoro (nominated) and MPs Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem), Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda), Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu East) and Seme’s James Nyikal in asking the government to reconsider its strategy in the war against terror.

Mr Odinga accused President Uhuru Kenyatta for displaying arrogance when foreign states issued warning over pending attacks which the Head of State dismissed as trash and perpetuation of colonialism. 

“Arrogance will not help us resolve the problem of insecurity in the country. The most important thing is for us to sit down and think where the rain started beating us,” he said. 

He said the country should emulate the US which withdrew its forces from Somalis, Iraq, Afganistan and other violent areas in order to safeguard the rights of her citizens.

Mr Wetang’ula said the government should cut down the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) budget by 50 per cent and divert the resources towards strengthening internal security.

“The government should reduce the military budget by even 50 per cent in order to boost internal security. This will ensure police officers are well equipped and paid in order to motivate them to protect our people better,” he said.

But reacting to the sentiments senior director at State House Mr Munyori Buku said the two had become spokesmen of terrorists.

“Raila Odinga and Moses Wetang’ula have become spokesmen of terrorists. Terrorists have harped, time without number, that Kenya should withdraw KDF troops from Somalia. For the two to amplify the same is a transgression against the people of Kenya,” he said.

Grace Ogot’s son David, known for his national campaign against drugs and alcohol abuse, and her other children Madara and Milton, described her as a great person who left a rich legacy not only in the family but also across the world through her writing.

“Thank you for fighting to the end until I got sober, and now I release you to a better place,” David said in his moving tribute.

Kenyan troops moved into Somalia in October 2011 to fight the Al-Shabaab following kidnapping of foreign tourists in Lamu near the Somali border.