KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 16 – President Mwai Kibaki has called for concerted efforts to rid the Great Lakes Region off the negative armed forces that have continued to operate and constantly threaten peace and stability in the region.,
President Kibaki noted that the exchange of vital information amongst member states would enhance regional security.
President Kibaki particularly singled out the lawlessness in Somalia where he said there were serious security consequences on both Kenya and the sub-region.
“Despite the progress made over the last few years, there are outstanding security challenges that need to be addressed. In particular, the lawlessness in Somalia has had serious security consequences on Kenya and the sub-region. The Al Shabaab insurgents operating from Somalia have consistently violated our territorial integrity and undermined our national security,” he said.
The president who was speaking during the International Conference on the Great Lakes 5th Ordinary Summit in Kampala, Uganda said the Summit gave an opportunity for member states to review their achievements towards implementation of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the region signed in 2006.
“Since its inception, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region has achieved remarkable success in resolving conflicts in the Region,” said the President.
President Kibaki noted that remarkable progress has so far been achieved since the commencement of a joint operation by the Kenya Defence Forces in conjunction with Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) forces to root out the Al-Shabaab insurgents.
“We launched this operation with a view to defending ourselves by eliminating the threat posed by the insurgents. We have made remarkable progress towards rooting out the insurgents and our forces have since joined the African Union peace keeping mission in Somalia,” he said.
The Head of State thanked the Great Lakes Region member states and the international community for supporting Kenya’s efforts in Somalia.
He urged member states of the Great Lakes Region, the African Union and the international community to take advantage of the progress made so far and help rebuild Somalia.
He noted the restoration of peace in the region has led to improved relations between member countries and opened new opportunities for trade, investment and economic development.
He welcomed the recommendations made by the Ministers in charge of Defence and Security in responding to the threats posed by the activities of insurgents in the region particularly the need to enhance bilateral and regional initiatives to fight the negative forces.
President Kibaki also hailed the inclusion of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the Indian Ocean and Somalia within the agenda of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region.
The Head of State reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to the objectives and principles of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region that aim to transform the region into a haven of peace, security, and
On democracy and governance, the president said tremendous progress had been made by member states citing the successful and peaceful elections held this year in Uganda, Sudan, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as the conclusion of a peaceful referendum in Sudan and the birth of the new State of the Southern Sudan mid this year.
“We look forward to welcoming the Republic of South Sudan as a new member of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region,” he said.
President Kibaki commended the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, whose term has now expired for her outstanding service.
He also congratulated her successor Professor Ntumba Luaba Lumu Alphonse from the Democratic Republic of Congo on his appointment as the new Executive Secretary.
The President further appreciated development partners for the moral and technical assistance they have continued to extend to the organisation.
The Summit was also attended by outgoing chairman President Michael Sata who handed the leadership mantle to the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
Others in attendance were President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, President Pierre Nkurinziza of Burundi, Sudanese Vice President Dr Adam Yusuf and representatives of Governments of member states.