, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 19 – President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed will make his first State visit to Kenya on Thursday ahead of a special summit on the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
In his weekly press briefing, State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said Kenya and Somalia enjoy warm and cordial relations founded on trust, cooperation and mutual interests.
“We share common heritage and our views converge on many regional and international issues,” he said.
Adding: “Our common endeavour for durable peace, viable stability and sustainable development for both our peoples and region continue to underline the necessity for our mutual cooperation.”
Esipisu said during the Somalia leader’s visit, President Kenyatta will impress on the need to reinvigorate efforts and to scale up collaboration in mutual areas of interest identified during the inaugural session of the Joint Commission for Cooperation that was held in Nairobi in July 2015.
Areas of cooperation identified in the Joint Commission include Security, Trade and investment, Civil Aviation, Education, Agriculture, Resources sharing and development, Livestock Development, Fisheries, Tourism, Immigration, Labour and Health.
“President Kenyatta looks forward to robust multi-sectoral bilateral engagements and enhancing the existing partnerships in order to leverage on the existing opportunities therein,” said State House Spokesperson.
Esipisu pointed out that the President would speak on the importance of the technical teams involved to convene as soon as possible to review the implementation status of the Joint Commission for Cooperation, in particular to conclude the proposed instruments of cooperation.
Key areas to be discussed by the technical teams include, MoU on Political Consultations by the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Initiating measures to enhance cooperation on immigration matters and development of a comprehensive border management system; Cooperation on police matters, including capacity building; and encouraging the private sector to explore the investment opportunities in both countries among many others.
The Spokesperson said President Kenyatta will inform his guest of Kenya’s readiness to offer technical support and capacity building assistance to the Federal Government institutions and other sectors based on mutual agreement.
He said President Kenyatta will also speak to the fact that AMISOM draw-down is scheduled to begin in 2018 and that this would require scaling up efforts to build the Somalia national security architecture and strengthen the security apparatus to facilitate a smooth handover.
Other issues which President Kenyatta will discuss with his guest include the need for Kenya and Somalia to approach the forthcoming 3rd London Conference on Somalia slated for May 11 with a coordinated position as a region to ensure the outcomes of the meeting serve the interests of the people of Somalia.
The Spokesperson also announced that Kenya will host an IGAD Summit on Saturday, whose focus would be on Somali refugees and the need to create a conducive environment for them to feel safe to go back and develop their country.
He said the summit will also review other regional security matters, with a focus on South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
The visit comes a few days after President Uhuru Kenyatta made a surprise visit to the Kenya Defence Forces camp at Dhobley Military Camp in Somalia, a move that was largely meant to boost their morale.
President Kenyatta – in full military regalia – arrived at the camp located in the dusty town of South Western lower Juba region of Somalia.
The Dhobley Military Camp – located 20 kilometers from the town of Liboi in Kenya – also serves as the headquarters of the AMISOM, a nerve centre and a log base for the UN in Somalia.
The relative calm of Dhobley town was disturbed by heavy gunfire as soldiers demonstrated to the President how they fight the enemy.
President Kenyatta also visited a field health facility located at the camp and wished a quick recovery to a soldier admitted at the facility.
“Your being here in Somalia has saved many lives, and for that Kenyans will forever be indebted to you. Your presence here has at least freed people of the fear of Al-Shabaab,” President Kenyatta said.
The visit to Dhobley camp by President Kenyatta was received by the troops as a special gesture that uplifted their spirit and patriotism and served to underscore the importance the President attaches to the restoration of normalcy in Somalia.
He added: “We have revived our tourism sector thanks to you for securing our country.”
The Dhobley Military Camp is the headquarters of the AMISOM, a nerve centre and a log base for the UN.
The Head of State assured the KDF that Government will always support and stand with them.
“We are talking to the new Somali Government to emphasize to them the importance of building their military so that you can go back home. That is our exit strategy,” President Kenyatta said.
The visit came barely a day after the Head of State deployed KDF to the counties of Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Pokot and Laikipia to beef up security in the troubled areas – an additional task the military have embraced with gusto.
There were reports that the President’s visit to KDF could have rattled his counterpart but Esipisu said, “The President visit his troop is a normal thing to do. I am quite sure if there are issues by the other country, then they will be handled through the normal diplomatic channels.”
“Regional security is a matter that world leaders have expressed concern about and want to see Kenya remain in the pivotal role in terms of tackling these,” said Mr. Esipisu.
He said regional security matters have come up in the recent discussions the President has had with United States President Donald Trump, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who paid him a courtesy call on Friday last week.