NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – Deputy President William Ruto has called on the African Union to increase its military presence in Somalia in order to ensure regional stability.
Speaking as he represented President Uhuru Kenyatta on a tour of four African nations, the deputy president said the political instability in Somalia has led to the proliferation of small arms and increased terrorist attacks from the Al Shabaab within Kenya’s borders.
“We need to stabilise Somalia fully because the continued absence of a stable government is piling a lot pressure on Kenya,” Ruto stressed at a meeting with President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo Brazzaville and President Ali Bongo of Gabon.
A stable Somalia, Ruto added, would also enable the large number of Somali refugees Kenya is currently hosting to return home and allow the Kenyan government to focus on threats to security from within its borders.
“The Somalia problem has compounded insecurity in Kenya,” the deputy president explained.
The previous regime attributed the spate of terror attacks that the country experienced last year to Somalia based Al Shabaab militants who evaded capture by hiding in the Dadaab refugee camp – the largest in the world.
Presidents Nguesso and Bongo assured the Kenyan government of their support in the bid to bolster the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The Kenyan government wants security forces to be increased especially in the Somali capital of Mogadishu where AMISOM faces a challenge from rebel leaders.
There are about 1,000 Kenyan soldiers in Somalia.
The takeover of the Al Shabaab stronghold of Kismayu in September last year was largely celebrated as the turning point for the conflict ridden Somalia but the nation which has been without a central government for a large part of its history remains volatile.
Ruto is expected to return to Kenya on Saturday after visiting Algeria. The trip to Algeria was preceded by a trip to Nigeria where he met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
Jonathan and Ruto discussed the feasibility of setting up a fertiliser factory on the continent and the ways in which intra-African trade can be boosted.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has made no secret of the importance their economic agenda places on beneficial relationships with the rest of the continent.