Kenya has been urged to concentrate its efforts in stabilising Somalia before it can pull its troops out of the war torn country.Visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry said Kenya cannot withdraw its military from Somalia just yet, pointing out that the role the forces are playing is critical in ensuring stability in the Horn of Africa nation.
“We need the exit strategy, but it needs to be a success and we need a clearer sense of how the success will come,” Kerry said.
He stressed that the exit strategy needed to be carefully thought out to ensure it did not create more problems for Kenya.
“Somalia is making progress; Al Shabaab is being beaten back and is being pushed back and the political system is coming alive again,” said Kerry.
“Kenya will be safe if Somalia is more stable, Kenya will safer if South Sudan can resolve its problems; Kenya will be safer if there aren’t more refuges pouring around the border because those communities cannot pull themselves together,” he added.
He added that the United States was willing to work with Kenya to ensure peace was restored in the neighbouring countries saying they would increase funding to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to ensure they had all the necessary assets to accomplish their mission.
He said cooperation between the United States and Kenya had seen them spend over $645 million in the fight against terror adding that this year alone, they had donated $100 million.
“We are deeply engaged in trying to help Kenya. We are working in border security, intelligence sharing, law enforcement and capacity building. We provide equipment to key sections in the military,” he added.
“This is not just a challenge to Kenya, it is a challenge for the whole world… we have to do better in this regard.”
He intimated that in the next few weeks Kenya will host a counter violence extremism summit bringing together experts from all over the world to come up with strategies of depleting the pool of future terrorists.
He however maintained that even as the fight against terror takes shape, Kenya should be careful not to infringe on human rights in the process in apparent reference to statements by government officials proposing the closure of the Dadaab refugee camp.
Kerry expressed hope that the camp will remain open until the situation in Somalia is contained further sympathising with Kenya over the challenges brought about by the growing number of refugees who are now threatening the country’s security.
He urged the government to accelerate efforts in coming up with a plan for the repatriation of the refugees in a manner that does not go against the refugees rights.
“We have to resolve the underlying problem so that people can go back to their homes in peace. I leave here with a much greater awareness of the challenge, a much more immediate sense of the urgency and a much more commitment to work with the International partners to finish the work and relieve the burden to the people of Kenya,” he added.
Earlier in the day he met Opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Senator Moses Wetangula at the Serena Hotel.
He said this was to ensure he gathered divergent views from Kenyans ahead of the July visit by US President Barack Obama.