Exclusive: ‘We do not accept US drone strikes inside Kenya,’ warns President Kenyatta

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 during an official visit to France, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta discussed the biggest challenges facing him. Asked about the fight against terrorism, the Kenyan leader denied that the US military has sought permission to carry out drone strikes inside Kenya. He stressed that if such a request was made, he would reject it. Kenyatta also addressed the Covid-19 pandemic, Kenya’s economic development, as well as an attempt to dissolve parliament due to gender inequality.

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta warned that it was too early to say that the worst was over with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic. He said he had ordered a easing of the restrictions in Kenyabas because the development of infection was getting better, but he said schools would remain closed until further notice and refused to give a date for their reopening.

Kenyatta admitted that the country’s economy had gotten a hit, but said Kenya had fared better than many countries, adding that he was optimistic about the economy of the future. He promised to leave no stone unturned in the investigation into possible misuse of Covid-19 funds by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority and stressed that investigations had been launched and would be pursued wherever they may lead.

The President praised the business agreements signed in France for infrastructure projects in Kenya and stressed that they would be financed by the private sector and as such would not add more public debt.

As for terrorism, Kenyattas said the threat to his country had been greatly diminished, but that Somalia’s Islamist group al Shabaab remained the biggest danger. He did not commit to a date for Kenyan troops to withdraw from Somalia. He vehemently denied reports that the U.S. military has sought permission to carry out drone strikes in Kenya. He stressed that if such a request was made, he would reject it.

When asked for advice from the Supreme Court on dissolving parliament because gender equality measures had not been adopted, he said the decision was now before the courts, adding that the dissolution of parliament was not his intention.

As for his tense relationship with Vice President William Ruto, Kenyatta warned that now was not the time to fight for the 2022 presidential election, but instead to work to improve inclusivity by reaching out to the opposition. He said such a move was not aimed at weakening its vice president. But Kenyatta refused to commit to supporting him in 2022, as both men had agreed to do, when they decided to run together on a joint ticket back in 2012.

Finally, Kenyattas said he would not seek to change the constitution to seek a third term and that he did not want to remain in power, even though a post as prime minister was created for him through a constitutional reform currently under consideration.


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