, PERTH, Australia, Oct 28 – President Mwai Kibaki has affirmed that Kenya’s decision to carry out military action against the Al Shabaab militia was in response to escalating insecurity and violation of Kenya’s territorial integrity by the insurgents.
President Kibaki stated that Kenya was not at war with Somalia but was carrying out military action against the non-state actors who are perpetrating blatant attacks, abductions and killings of innocent civilians.
Speaking during an executive session of the Commonwealth Heads of State and government in Perth, Australia, the Head of State said that Kenya had no intentions of keeping troops in Somalia longer than is necessary, but will undertake the mission established under the operation to protect the country.
President Kibaki informed the session, chaired by the Prime Minister of
Australia Julia Gillard that the country’s current mission in Somalia is meant to deal with the continued threat posed by Al-Shabaab to Kenya’s national security and economic interests.
Said the President: “Our mission in Somalia is therefore, based on a legitimate right to protect Kenya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
President Kibaki emphasised that the prolonged conflict in Somalia has progressively mutated into a myriad of activities threatening the security of Kenya and other neighbouring states, the region and the international community.
Saying that Kenya is working with the African Union, IGAD and the Somali Transitional Federal Government to create safe zones within the war torn country, the Head of State called on the international community to support efforts towards stabilizing Somalia.
Such support, President Kibaki noted, would enable the Transitional Federal Institutions to establish local administration to provide basic social and economic infrastructure while facilitating the return of refugees to Somalia and reduce the heavy security and economic burden currently being borne by Kenya.
“Kenya can no longer bear the burden of hosting the massive number of refugees in the country and calls upon the Commonwealth to support efforts to facilitate their return to Somalia or relocation to another country,” the President said.
He gave an assurance of Kenya’s commitment to continue working closely with the TFG, IGAD, AU and the international community to deal decisively with the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and other armed terrorist militias.
“It is therefore in the interest of the region, the Commonwealth and the international community as a whole to support efforts towards strengthening the Transitional Federal Government and its institutions as well as provision of sustainable funding for the AMISOM forces in Somalia,” President Kibaki noted.
President Kibaki stressed that in the absence of a stable government in Somalia, piracy in the
Indian Ocean and other illegal activities cannot be effectively tackled.
Besides the rising insecurity and political instability, the President observed that Somalia was faced with a devastating drought and famine with millions of people in different parts of the country in dire need of food and water.
“This has led to mass movements of Somali nationals into the already overcrowded Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya which now holds more than 600,000 refugees.
The camp was originally designed to host 90,000 refugees.
The influx of Somali refugees has resulted in several challenges for Kenya.
These include environmental degradation due to the congestion in the camps, insecurity, arms proliferation, human trafficking, and smuggling, among others,” observed the President.
The Head of State said his government was conscious of the fact that most Somali citizens crossing into Kenya are doing so in search of humanitarian assistance on account of Al-Shabaab’s resistance to relief agencies operating in some parts of Somalia.