11 September 2012

Kenya PM Backs New Somalia President

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Tuesday congratulated newly elected Somalia president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, terming his election as a 'turning point' for peace and progress in the neighbouring country.

He said that Mohamud's election on Monday was manifest of a clear intention by lawmakers in Somalia to break away from the past and start on a new chapter.

"His election reflects a clear desire by parliamentarians to break with the past by electing a leader who has had no political involvement in the last two turbulent decades of violence-wracked Somalia," said the PM.

Odinga noted that with every clan and village represented in the new Parliament, the election enables Somalis to come together in a manner unprecedented since 1991.

"His decisive election margin beating incumbent president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed gives him a powerful mandate for peace and rebuilding his country," he said.

Odinga described the newly elected president as having credentials to steer Somalia to peace having been a civil society activist for peace and having also worked for the United Nations Children's Fund.

At the same time, he promised Kenya's support to Somalia to ensure that the neighbouring country enjoys lasting peace.

"Every step towards peace and development by Somalia will meet our outstretched hands of support" - Odinga.

"Every step towards peace and development by Somalia will meet our outstretched hands of support," he said.

The premier thanked the outgoing Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Kenyan troops, regional governments and the international community for efforts to restore peace in Somalia.

"Let me pay particular tribute to all the peace-keepers, among them so many noble Kenyans, who laid down their lives in a foreign land for the sake of a better tomorrow for Somalis," he said.

Odinga urged President Mohamud to actively work for peace to build an inclusive and united nation which alone will pave the way to the new Somalia.

He also urged all Al Shabaab factions to recognise that using arms as the means for ascending to power is over.

"They should renounce violence and join the new democratic and truly inclusive enterprise that is poised to take a great leap forward for all Somalis," he said.

He said Kenya has no intention of forcefully repatriating Somali refugees in Kenyan camps, pointing out that many of them were economic refugees who will go back home when the situation normalizes in Somalia.

Odinga at the same time made it clear that the Kenya Defence Forces on active duty in Somalia are not targeting the civilian population.

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