, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 25 – The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) will not negotiate with the Al Shabaab militia, nor will it pull out of Somalia following the release of a video showing a kidnapped Kenyan urging the government to call off the operation.
Speaking during a weekly briefing at the police headquarters on Saturday, Col Cyrus Oguna of the department of defence said Kenya has no room for negotiating with a criminal group referring to the Al Shabaab militia which is holding two Kenyans.
“That was propaganda by Al Shabaab, he (District Officer Yesse Mule) was forced to say something he would not be willing to say. Our position as KDF has never changed. We will not negotiate with a criminal organisation,” he asserted.
On Friday the militia group released a video showing Yesse Mule Edward who was abducted alongside an Immigration official Fredrick Wainaina from Wajir district in mid January, urging the President to abandon the Operation Linda Nchi offensive to secure their release.
But according to Oguna, neither KDF, nor the government will give in to negotiate with the group about abandoning the operation that started 133 days ago due to the threat posed on Kenya’s economy and security by the group.
He congratulated the KDF for notably displacing the Al Shabaab saying most of them were already moving out of Somalia.
“In 126 days KDF had been able to displace Al Shabaab from landmarks equivalent to 95,000 square kilometers. We are not the first powers to operate in Somalia before, there have been others, but the only force that has been able to put Al Shabaab on reverse gear is the KDF,” he asserted.
Since the operation that started in October, 2011, Kenya has lost 10 soldiers, 24 have been injured out of which 8 are still admitted to hospital according to Oguna.
He also announced that KDF was officially a member of AMISOM following an endorsement by the UN on Wednesday.
However he said KDF will continue working as before until the African Union Peace and Security Council stipulate new working procedures which will explain the command structure, the force levels and logistical provisions.
“The endorsement by UN was essentially provision of the skeleton. The next step is to add meat to that skeleton, we are waiting for those instructions,” he explained.
He said the command structure will have four commanders at the highest level where all the four countries, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti will occupy the four positions; force commander, two deputy commanders and the commander in charge of operations.
“The four countries will sit and agree on who will take what position. Any country can take any of those positions. It will be rotational and will depend on how long AMISOM will stay in Somalia. However the commander in charge of the Kenyan contingent will be a Kenyan,” Oguna further explained.
He acknowledged that the endorsement to AMISON will lessen the financial burden that Kenya bears since it wholly finances the KDF operation in Somalia.
“The cost of this operation is on the shoulder of the Kenyan tax payer. But the cost will now spread to other countries who are friends of Kenya, the UN, the burden will now have shifted and spread across,” he appreciated.