, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – President Uhuru Kenyatta was due to leave for London on Sunday night for his first official visit to a western capital since assuming office in April.
The president will be attending a conference co-hosted by the United Kingdom and Somalia intended to secure international support for the rebuilding of the horn of Africa nation following decades of conflict.
A statement from the Presidential Press Service adds that “the Head of State will also hold bilateral meetings with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and other UK government officials during his three day visit.”
The question of Somalia’s stability has taken prominence in President Kenyatta’s first month in office given he just came back from an extraordinary Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit on Friday where Somalia was the subject of discussion.
The president also held talks with the British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner on Tuesday during which Somalia was discussed and the two governments pledged to work toward the continued stability of the war-ravaged country.
Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, himself held talks with Kenyatta following his inauguration on April 9 and among the matters discussed was the repatriation of Somali refugees residing in Kenya given the relative calm their homeland is currently experiencing.
Human rights organisations have however called on the Kenyan government not to rush into sending the Somali refugees home as there are still pockets of violence in the country; a case in point being Sunday’s suicide bomb blast in Mogadishu that resulted in 11 deaths.
The debate on the repatriation of Somali refugees is one Kenyatta’s government has inherited from the Kibaki administration which led a military incursion into Somalia following kidnappings orchestrated by the Al Shabaab terrorist group on Kenyan soil.
Following the successful capture of the Al Shabaab stronghold of Kismayu by African Union forces in September last year, Kibaki’s government began to push for Somali refugees to go back home accusing them of harbouring criminals who carried out terror attacks in Kenya.
President Kenyatta’s government has however assured the human rights organisations that any decisions made on the repatriation of Somali refugees will be made in consultation with the United Nation’s refugee agency UNHCR.