, NEW YORK, Sep 25 – Kenya continues to bear the greatest burden of the long-standing conflict in neighbouring Somalia, President Mwai Kibaki has said.
President Kibaki said unrest in Somalia had now become a grave concern not just for Kenya but the larger horn of Africa region and beyond.
“Kenya continues to shoulder the heaviest responsibility in form of large numbers of refugees, piracy, the influx of small arms and the growing terrorism threats,” he said in a statement read on his behalf by Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula in the US on Thursday.
In his comments to a mini-summit on Somalia held on the sidelines of the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City, he stated that as the international community delayed in action, extremist elements extended control over large territories of Somalia including Mogadishu and their capacity to inflict countless casualties increased by the day.
"While the scale and magnitude of this problem is greater than any other, it suffers benign neglect from the international community, leading to many lost opportunities to resolve it," observed President Kibaki.
The Head of State noted that the capacity of the Al-Shabab to cause harm beyond the borders of Somalia was demonstrated by the Kampala bomb-attacks in July this year.
President Kibaki said: "Their capacity to inflict casualties on civilians and humanitarian actors as well as attack the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is growing by the day."
The President asserted that Somalia was at a critical period with only eleven months remaining before the end of the transition period and called for an impetus to prepare institutions as well as the ground for a new political dispensation in the war ravaged country.
During the occasion, President Kibaki commended the governments of Uganda and Burundi for their continued sacrifices and contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
He affirmed that AMISOM continues to safeguard vital installations in Mogadishu under very challenging circumstances and called upon the international community to AU\’s initiative especially the deployment of the recommended 20,000 troops and transforming the force into a UN peacekeeping mission.
The Head of State noted, "This is evidenced by among others the recent attempts to attack the airport that left two AMISOM soldiers dead and scores injured."
President Kibaki further reiterated on the need to extend support to the Transitional Federal Government so as bolster its effectiveness countrywide against the perceived reluctance by the UN Security Council to engage with Somalia.
The Head of State remarked: "In July of this year, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit identified critical elements of engagement and took a number of decisions on the way forward. These decisions were endorsed by the African Union Summit in Kampala in July 2010. Unfortunately, the support needed to implement these decisions by the international community has not been forthcoming."
The President, however, welcomed support from other actors in conflict especially in terms of building the capacity of the Transitional Federal Government.
President Kibaki said, "Kenya is willing to support programmes that cater for different needs as identified by the Transitional Federal Government in line with existing Technical Assistance Agreements. Nonetheless, I wish to call on this August house to show its resolve and commit itself to assisting Somalia realize lasting peace.
During the occasion President Kibaki commended Un Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for convening the mini-summit on Somalia and the General Assembly to demonstrate resolve in seeking lasting peace in the country.