, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 7 – Parliament on Wednesday unanimously endorsed a move for Kenyan forces fighting the Al Shabaab militia in Somalia serve under the African Union Mission in Somalia – Amisom.
MPs supported the move saying it will provide Kenya a safe exit strategy from the military operation which may prove costly and overburden the tax payer in light of the rising inflation being experienced in the country.
They said under Amisom, Kenya will secure regional backing and ensure the war is well managed under the African Union.
They said being part of Amisom will ensure Kenya protects its interests as a country.
Lagdera MP Farah Maalim hailed the Kenya Defence Force who he said in the short time they have been in Somalia, had been able to liberate several towns from the militia group compared to the Ugandan forces.
Maalim, who is the House Deputy Speaker, claimed that the Somali locals have lost faith in Ugandan forces who they accuse of doing business using the war.
He urged the training of Somali forces to enable them be fully equipped to combat the militia. The Deputy Speaker warned against engaging Israel in the war against the Al Shabaab saying this will jeopardise progress made in the war.
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said Kenya’s war against the militants had UN backing adding that the United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon is set to visit Dadaab on Thursday.
Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti said Kenyan troops serving under the African Union force would ensure the war is not a Kenyan problem but a global one.
Saitoti said Kenya was not interested in an expansionist program but was in Somalia in a bid to defeat the militia and protect its territory against external aggression.
Defence Assistant Minister Joseph Nkaiserry attributed the prowess and professionalism exhibited by the KDF troops to the huge investment in training.
He demanded that the government provide the clear rules of engagement seeking to know who will be in charge of the Kenyan troops, their training and level of command.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka said Kenya has taken part in various peace missions which have been successful and the same guidelines for such missions will guide the engagement with Amisom.
Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan said it is in the interest of Kenya to support the stability in Somalia.
Other contributions saw MPs back the Amisom strategy with Mathira MP Ephraim Maina saying going in as a country without timelines is bound to fail saying Kenya’s occupation in Somalia should be kept short.
He cited countries like US who have gone into countries like Afghanistan and Vietnam with little success.
The only opposition to the Motion came from Garsen MP Danson Mungatana who accused the government of reneging on its earlier commitment to ensure the Al Shabaab war is carried out for a limited time.
Mungatana regretted that billions of funds had gone into the war yet the country has pending commitments which include doctors pay, improvement of infrastructure, and other commitments.
The Garsen MP said Kenya was a shrinking economy and cannot afford to engage in an endless war.
Mungatana urged the government to stick to its initial plans to have the Kenya defence forces in Somalia for a short time and withdraw its troops immediately.
Earlier, attempts by Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo to have the debate held in camera were thwarted by Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara who was supported by Mungatana.
Imanyara said Kenyans had the right to know why the Kenyan forces should serve under AMISOM while Mungatana said the constitution guarantees Kenyans access to information and there was no justification to hold the debate in secret.
Onyonka and Defence Minister Yusuf Hajj agreed saying the information on the Motion was not sensitive and would not jeopardise any security concerns.