, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10- Kenya has no intentions of severing ties with Eritrea over the suspicion of Eritrea funding the Al Shabaab, top government official has said.
Deputy Director at Foreign affairs division in charge of the Horn of Africa Lindsay Kipteness said that Kenya remains open for dialogue over the issue with their Eritrean counterparts.
He said that the sanctions by the UN Security Council on Eritrea vindicate Kenya’s position that the Eritrea has failed to de-link itself from activities of armed groups in Somalia.
Kipteness said: “The Kenyan government remains open to dialogue with Eritrea; we have not severed relations with Asmara. We still think that Eritrea is important in the stabilisation of Somalia as well as the peace of the region.”
He said that the Eritrea should however drop conditions for coming to meet the president instead to meet his foreign affairs equal
“They (Eritrea) sent a message saying that their foreign minister will come to Kenya on condition that he meets President Kibaki, but obviously that is not his level. We will wait for him to come and meet our Foreign Affair minister,” he emphasised.
The UN Security Council on Monday toughened sanctions against Eritrea which has been accused of plotting terrorist attacks and supporting Somali Islamist rebels.
A resolution, passed with 13 votes in favour, while Russia and China abstained, allows the council to increase the number of individuals and entities that can be hit with a travel ban and assets freeze.
Eritrea has been accused of supporting Al Shabaab Islamist militants in Somalia with finance and weapons. A UN sanctions monitoring group has linked the Asmara government to a bomb plot against an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in January.
The Security Council demanded that Eritrea “cease all direct or indirect efforts to destabilise states, including through financial, military, intelligence and non-military assistance.”
Kipteness further took issue with aid firm Oxfam which has insisted the operation in Somalia was hindering humanitarian efforts.
He urged aid agencies to look out for the long term objectives of the operation in Somalia.
The enemy in Somalia is the Al Shabaab that have even expelled 16 humanitarian agencies including agencies of the United Nations
On the military front the Kenya Defence Forces said that they are wining the war against the Al Shabaab in all the three sectors.
Colonel Cyrus Oguna of the Department of Defence said that the Al Shabaab has incurred more casualties and logistical loses since the operation began.
Oguna said that the Al Shabaab now want to change their name to Somalia Islamic Emirates so that they can win more support.
“Al Shabaab is completely confused, disorganised and in a desperate attempt to change its name so as to attract sympathisers; but under whatever name or brand they come we will continue to hit and destabilise them until their capacity is degraded,” said Oguna.
He said that the military has learnt that Al Shabaab casualties have filled hospitals in Kisimayu and medical facilities being operated by NGO’s in areas that the Al Shabaab still control.
On Monday forces did strike a foreign fighters camp near Afmadow destroying Al Shabaab personnel and vehicles. Naval forces also sunk a skiff with five occupants in the Indian Ocean.
Oguna warned civilians to keep of structures serving the Al Shabaab after a civilian was killed on Wednesday as the troops struck an armour dump near Bardere.
Col Oguna welcomed the endorsement by parliament for the KDF to re-hat to AMISOM mandate maintaining that in the event the UN Security Council approves the request, the KDF will still be proactive in protecting Kenya.
“As it is now the KDF TFG alliance is focused on its mission; in the vent that we join AMISOM we will be robust in peace enforcement, it will not weaken us. It will also not rob us off the right to self defense, when Kenya feels in secure we will go out and deal with that situation,” he emphasised.