NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 3 – Kenya Wednesday acknowledged the breach of its borders in the north east by the Somalia National Army (SNA), the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta saying citizens in the border town of Mandera were harassed and their properties destroyed.
NSC, during a special session convened at State House Nairobi, said the actions by Somalia amounted to, “an unwarranted attack by foreign soldiers with the intention of provoking Kenya.”
The meeting by the council whose membership included Deputy President William Ruto, Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, Interior’s Fred Matiangi, Attorney General Kiahara Kariuki, Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe, National Intelligence Service Director General Wachira Kimeru and National Police Service Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai noted security agencies acted in total restraint in keeping with Kenya’s commitment to regional peace and stability.
SNA is said to have breached the border on Monday during a daylong war with forces of the regional state of Jubaland.
About 30 Jubaland troops were reportedly shielded within security installations in Mandera town during the ensuing gunfight.
Following its meeting on Wednesday however, the security council rubbished claims Kenya was interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs condemning a February 27 statement by the country’s Ambassador in New York, Abukar Dahir Osman.
“The baseless accusations and invalid allegations made by the Federal Government of Somalia that Kenya is interfering with Somalia’s internal affairs; are part of a growing and persistent pattern of ill intent to use Kenya as a scapegoat and a tool to justify challenges in Somalia for political reasons. Kenya will not accept to be used in that manner,” a statement dispatched to newsrooms by State House Press Secretary Kanze Dena read.
NSC warned President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s administration in Mogadishu against perpetuating a smear campaign against Kenya which the council termed as a diversionary tactic to avoid calls for accountability by Somali citizens.
“We encourage the Federal Government of Somalia to stop the smear campaign and commit the energy to deliver leadership and prosperity to its people,” the top security council stated.
“The Federal Government of Somalia in pursuit of short-term political expediency is out to create artificial fissures in the relations between the Republic of Kenya and the Federal Government of Somalia,” NSC added while voicing support for United Nation’s call for the pursuit of a broad political consensus to resolve simmering tensions between Somali’s federal administration and regional states within the country.
Monday’s gunfight which caused panic among residents at the Mandera border town came just a day after the return of 11 Members of Parliament form the northeastern region from a trip in Somalia where they held talks with Farmajo.
Although details of the secret visit remained scanty, seven lawmakers from the region Monday told reporters their concerns on the escalating tensions between Somalia and Jubaland spilling over to Kenya were indeed valid, describing the turn events at the border town as a pointer to a security crisis.
“The war is taking part in our soil and the Government is doing nothing about it,” Mandera Senator Mahamud Maalim asserted.
“What we are been talking about in terms of the danger we are facing, we have been vindicated today.”
The leaders linked the emerging dispute to the existence on unnamed Somalian fugitives in the country, cautioning against action that may destabilize the horn of Africa.
“We should assist Somalia to stabilize,” Senator Maalim appealed.
Amnesty International had in September 2019 issued a statement calling for the arrest of Jubaland Security Minister Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur who was being sought after by Mogadishu for what the lobby group termed as criminal responsibility for crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations, including obstructing humanitarian assistance.
“The arrest of Abdirashid Janan is a significant step towards accountability for the serious human rights violations committed with impunity for years by powerful individuals in Somalia,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Seif Magango, said.