Kenya: Foreign Affairs Minister decries worsening security situation in Somalia

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Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Extra-Ordinary IGAD Council of Ministers meeting in Nairobi on October 28, 2008, the Minister observed that the current security situation in Somalia is not only worrying but greatly endangers peace, security and stability in the IGAD sub-region. He added that in the last few months, insurgents have renewed their attacks targeting local population, foreign nationals, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) members.

The Minister noted that attacks by pirates on business and humanitarian vessels off the Somalia territorial waters have escalated to an all time high noting that over thirty five vessels had been attacked and hijacked this year alone where pirates have demanded millions of dollars in ransom.

Saying that Kenya is ready to work with the international community for actionable strategies to curb piracy in Somalia and take measures to strengthen maritime security in the strategic sea corridor of the Gulf of Eden and the Indian Ocean, the Minister welcomed UNSC Resolution 1816 of June 2, 2008 authorizing the use of force against piracy on the Somali waters.

Kenya, he said, welcomes the August 26, 2008 peace deal between President Abdullah Yusuf and Prime Minister Hassan Nur Hussein signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and will continue to stand by Somali leaders and other agents of peace as they work together to nurture peace and stability. The Minister acknowledged the sacrifices made by the leaders of the TFG and moderate Alliance for Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) to sign the Djibouti Peace Agreement in August 18, 2008. He noted with satisfaction that the Djibouti Accord nurtured in the spirit of reconciliation and compromise, forms a critical launch pad to hold Somalia together and steer it toward stability as the expiry of the TFG's Transitional Federal Charter fast-approaches.

The Minister regretted the persistent refusal by Asmara-based militant ARS faction and the Al-Shabaab, to come to the negotiating table and appealed to the two groups to give peace and dialogue a chance. Kenya, he said calls for an all inclusive negotiations in search for durable peace in Somalia.

Hon Wetang'ula expressed his concerns with the TFG's failure to institutionalize and entrench itself during the transitional period and more so, with the anticipated political and security challenges in the post-TFG Charter Somalia. He castigated the TFG leadership for engaging in some unhealthy political competition and unhelpful activities aimed at undermining political rivals.

The Minister called on all the sides in the Somalia conflict to recognize that building a stable and secure country, based on dialogue and reconciliation will better serve their interests in the long run rather than engaging in a zero-sum conflict that sets the stage for violence.

He noted with deep concern that certain key activities are yet to be undertaken including writing a new constitution and preparation for elections. He added that the prospects for the TFG to fulfill the original mandate in the remaining few months, is quite bleak. However, the Minister applauded the UNDP-led constitutional writing conference currently underway in Naivasha pointing out that Kenya has already offered technical assistance in making Somalia's constitution writing project a success.

The Minister called on genuine friends of Somalia to begin investing in building the capacity of the Somalia's institutions and resist temptations to reward individuals.

He announced that the Government of Kenya plans to organize a six-month crash programme to train 6,000 - 10,000 properly vetted and recruited young men and women to form the core of Somali's security structure in the post-charter Somalia. In this regard he said, he has held meetings with key development partners to underwrite some of the costs of the training and provide a two year salary support for the Somali forces after the training.

Hon Wetang'ula acknowledged the efforts of the Government of Uganda and Burundi in contributing troops to AMISOM. However he reiterated the need to increase the number to effectively enforce peace in Somalia. Highlighting the fact that the African Union is not capable of raising the expected number of troops, he urged the international community to give financial support to AU to facilitate complete deployment of AMISOM.