, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 7 – US President Barack Obama on Wednesday said the US would continue to help build the capacity of Kenya’s security services and better equip them to deal with the problem of Al Shabaab and other security threats.
Assistance, Obama said the US would also be extending to Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana and Tunisia to begin with.
“We’re launching a new security governance initiative to help our African countries continue to build strong, professional security forces to provide for their own security,” he reported to the press on Wednesday after day long meetings with the African heads of states who attended the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC.
“Most importantly,” Obama announced that the US was entering into a, “rapid response partnership,” with six African countries who had, “demonstrated a track record as peace keepers.”
The partnership with Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda was entered into with the goal of, “quickly deploying African peace keepers in support of UN or AU missions,” in mind, Obama said calling on countries, “beyond Africa,” to support the effort.
As regards the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Obama said the US would be supplying them with additional equipment as it would in the war ravaged Central African Republic.
Obama listed the US security interventions in Africa barely two days after President Uhuru Kenyatta had complained of the international community’s abandonment of Kenya in the war against terror and a day after Kenyatta then sought to discount speculation that relations between Kenya and the US were strained.
“Kenya is involved in anti-terrorism cooperation with many regional and international partners. Among our stalwart allies in these efforts is the United States,” he said in a reversal of, “We do feel the world isn’t doing enough to support us in confronting the challenges we have,” which he said in an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest.
The US security interventions in Africa, Obama was keen to relay, “are not to create a big foot print,” but were focused more on building the capacity of African security agencies to deal with their own security problems.
Violence, Obama said, was not the solution to the radicalisation of youth in Africa and advocated for, “professional,” law enforcement.
Good governance, he went on to say, was key as it would allow those who were disgruntled a non-violent means of expressing their dissatisfaction.
“And I made a point during our discussions that nations that uphold these rights and principles will ultimately be more prosperous and more economically successful,” he said.
Rights he said that included the freedom of the press and which had been threatened by the recent passage of, “troubling,” legislation around the world, “that seem to restrict the ability of journalists to pursue, write stories.”
Obama also delved into the West African Ebola crisis as the death toll rose to 932 and Liberia declared a State of Emergency.
He said American first responders would be deployed to West Africa to help contain its spread as he revealed plans to work with the AU to set up and African Centre for Disease Control.
“We’re focusing on the public health approach right now,” he said to the question on the possibility of using unlicensed Ebola drugs to contain what has been the worst outbreak yet.