ADDIS ABABA, Nov 9 – Ethiopian troops will join the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as part of renewed efforts to combat terrorism in the Horn of Africa region.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has said Ethiopian troops will join Kenya and Ugandan troops that are part of AMISOM fighting Al Shabaab insurgents inside Somalia.
Speaking when he hosted Deputy President William Ruto at his office in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, the premier said his country’s security chiefs were already engaged in strategy talks with their Kenyan counterparts on the joint operation.
Desalegn said there was a renewed terror threat in Ethiopia and this called for a joint security operation to eliminate the threat. “The threat is real and the war against terror should continue in all fronts,” said Desalegn.
Deputy President Ruto said Kenya had borne the brunt of terrorism and welcomed Ethiopia’s decision to join AMISOM in order to fight terrorism. “Recently, we had a terror attack that left several people dead and many others injured, and we welcome every effort to fight terror,” he said citing the recent terror attack at the Westgate mall.
The Deputy President said as part of a campaign to eliminate the threat of terror, an estimated one million Somali refugees would be repatriated under an agreement to be signed in Nairobi on Sunday. “The refugees in Kenya continue to pose a security threat to us in Kenya and we hope to eliminate that threat through repatriation,” Ruto said.
The repatriation programme is being undertaken by the Kenya and Somalia government together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – UNHCR.
The two leaders also discussed border security that they said continued to undermine development along the Kenya/Ethiopia border.
The two agreed that there was need to engage communities living along the border in other economic activities such as agriculture in order to minimize perennial border conflict.
It’s against this background that the Ethiopia Prime Minister said his government was keen to partner with Kenya in creating an economic zone in Moyale under the Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor project – LAPSSET. The Ethiopian PM described the LAPSSET project as a land mark that could turn the economic fortunes of millions of people in the region. “There is a lot for us in Ethiopia to gain from this project,” he said.
Ruto said works on the project were underway with bids for supply of power to the project already invited.
On the ICC, the Deputy President said Kenya was grateful to the Ethiopian government and the Prime Minister in particular for its stand on the matter under the African Union. Ethiopia is spearheading a campaign to have the ICC cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto deferred for at least one year. An African Union resolution on the deferment is pending at the United Nation’s Security Council.
“We are not taking your support for granted. The people of Kenya are indeed very grateful,” said Ruto.
The Ethiopia premier said the AU position on the ICC was not just about Kenya but Africa. He said Kenyan leaders should be allowed to discharge their responsibilities to the people who elected them without interference. “We are telling the international community that Africa will no longer accept to be influenced by forces outside the continent,” Desalegn said.
The Deputy President was accompanied MPs Vincent Musyoka of Mwala constituency, Moyale’s Roba Duba, Mathias Robi of Kuria West and Migori Governor Zacharia Okoth.