Claims by op­po­si­tion that pulling South Su­dan troops was il­le­gal dis­missed

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics -

State House has dis­missed claims by op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga that the de­ci­sion by Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta to with­draw KDF from South Su­dan was un­con­sti­tu­tional.

“It is clear that Raila has con­sis­tently mis­un­der­stood Kenya’s mil­i­tary, which has re­mained apo­lit­i­cal since in­de­pen­dence,” State House said in a state­ment.

Spokesman Manoah Esip­isu said the de­ci­sion by Uhuru to re­call the troops was con­sti­tu­tional.

He said this in­cluded ob­tain­ing au­tho­ri­sa­tion from the National Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. “Need­less to say, Raila is not a mem­ber of the NSC,” Esip­isu said. He went on, “Our soldiers do not put their lives on the line be­cause of al­lowances and stipends. They are in peace­keep­ing for the peace and se­cu­rity of Kenya.”

Esip­isu said the mil­i­tary com­prises com­mit­ted pro­fes­sion­als and great of­fi­cers who have in­vested their ca­reers in de­vel­op­ing a re­spectable ca­pac­ity to per­form their du­ties. “We sac­ri­fice im­mensely ev­ery time soldiers are de­ployed to peace­keep­ing mis­sions,” he said.

He added that to triv­i­alise peace­keep­ing and the enor­mous sac­ri­fices soldiers make is an in­sult to their pro­fes­sion.

“The at­tempt to bring into ques­tion the pro­fes- sion­al­ism of Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Johnson Ondieki by ex­ten­sion is an ef­fort to dele­git­imise the long-stand­ing con­duct of our mil­i­tary,” Esip­isu said.

On Novem­ber 1, UN chief Ban Ki-moon sacked Ondieki as head of UN peace­keep­ing force in South Su­dan. While the rea­son’s for Ondieki’s sack­ing are yet to be dis­closed, a doc­u­ment signed by Ban shows he was un­happy with how the UN mis­sions in South Su­dan han­dled the violence in Juba. Ondieki was ap­pointed six months ago to head the peace­keep­ing force. A UN re­port in­di­cates that UNMISS did not ad­e­quately re­spond to violence “due to an over­all lack of lead­er­ship”.

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