Africa Focus: Somalia party opposes withdrawal of Kenyan troops from Somalia

Xinhua
December 1, 2014
by Joy Nabukewa

MOMBASA, Kenya, Somalia’s opposition party has opposed calls for the withdrawal of Kenyan troops from the Horn of Africa nation due to increased terror attacks in Kenya.

Leader of Somalia’s National Unity Party (NUP) Abdullahi Baadiyow told journalists in Mombasa late Sunday that Al-Shabaab terror group is more entrenched and pose a graver threat not only in Somalia but the entire region.

Baadiyow who met Somalis in the coastal city of Mombasa warned the withdrawal will be a sign of defeat and will provide a safe haven for militants to recruit and strengthen activities.

“Withdrawal from Somalia because we cannot defeat Al-Shabaab shows the weakness of the government, I think Al-Shabaab is still strong and not weakened as others claim,” Baadiyow said.

He said Al-Shabaab is getting marginally weaker though losing territory they directly control due to the ongoing AU peacekeeping operation but has been to tactically withdrawing from towns in order to preserve its numbers of militants.

“The militants have not been captured and their armory remains intact. The fighters only melted into towns and the outskirts, they continue to carry out attack outside liberated towns,” Baadiyow said, adding that the Al-Shabaab still controls the outskirts of Kismayu where they have imposed double taxation on goods imported and exported through seaport and they still draw support.

Baadiyow, a candidate in the 2012 presidential elections, said Kenyans should not fall prey of Al-Shabaab by moving out of areas that have witnessed terror attacks including Mandera where teachers and doctors are calling for their withdrawal.

“Al-Shabaab’s main strategy is to create sectarian war in Kenya by creating rift between religions. If they (Kenya troops) move out meaning they are complying with their agenda this might further worsen the situation,” Baadiyow said.

“The nations should apply a comprehensive strategy, including getting rid of the Al-Shabaab deep rooted ideologies by educating the community and rehabilitation. Killing is not enough. Let’s deal with the ideological background that breeds this kind of system,” said Baadiyow.

The Kenyan government has reaffirmed its position that it will not be intimidated by terrorists and will not withdraw troops from Somalia.

The government says the Kenya Defense Forces’ deployment into Somalia has dismantled Al-Shabaab operations, networks, training and indoctrination bases, which posed grave danger to Kenya and the region.

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