Uhuru asks AU to support Amisom fight al-Shabaab in Somalia, says troops will stay on


President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for a review of the mandate of the African Mission in Somalia to change its rules of engagement as it fights to eradicate terrorists in Somalia.President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 24 Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo/PSCUUhuru called for more resources for the forces in Somalia so that Amisom can have robust power on land, air and the sea.

Uhuru said it was sad that the forces deployed in Somalia to face terrorists and hardened criminals lacked air and maritime components in a country that has a coastline of more than 3000 km.

He said Amisom has made gains from the time it deployed forces in Somalia but now was the time to change gear and allow the soldiers in Somalia to root out the terrorists to enable the government of Somalia to recover the entire territory.

“The objective was to support Somalia to recover the entire territory in time for the 2016 general elections. It is clear that this objective has not been achieved and it points to the need to vary the mandate of AMISOM,”he said.

“In order to achieve this strategic objective, AMISOM requires a reviewed mandate to enable its troops match the changing tactics”.

Uhuru said terrorists were changing tactics and security forces in neighbouring countries as well as Amisom should take necessary action to stay steps ahead.

He said Kenya managed to foil many planned terror attacks after it established inter-agency modalities that enable security forces to detect and destroy terrorist plans.

The President said the mutating threat of the terror attacks facing the region became evident this month with the attack of the Amisom base with troops in Somalia.

He said that while terrorism was a global problem, the attack showed that Somalia was an arena of terrorism.

“In order to fight it, all of us must continue the difficult and daunting task of identifying, separating, tracking and deterring the enemy wherever they may be found,” said the President.

Uhuru presented the Peace and Security Council with a five-point recommendation. He sought a review of Amisom mandate to match Al-shabaab’s mode of warfare.

He wants the Committee to ensure Amisom fully deploys troops in their respective areas of jurisdiction especially Gedo region in Sector 3 and review the sector allocations.

“The AU should ask the UN and international partners provide the necessary force multipliers to Amisom for better operational capabilities,” he said.

Uhuru also sought a predictable, adequate and sustainable funding for Amisom through the UN assessed contributions.

“It is imperative to provide resources to provide housing, jump-start livelihoods and offer support for initiatives that increase productivity in liberated areas in order to create pull factors and accelerate the return of refugees in to Somalia,” he said.

The President called on the leaders in South Sudan to be honest in implementing the peace accord they entered into. He at the same urged the AU to put pressure on the warring sides to opt for peace.

“I am optimistic that this Council will come up with decisions that guarantee humanitarian access to affected populations and exert the necessary leverage to all parties to invigorate implementation of the Peace Agreement,” he said.


_____________________________IN A RELATED STORY


Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, right, pays respect to fallen Kenyan soldiers alongside Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, center, and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, in Eldoret, January 27.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has said his troops will remain in Somalia following an attack by Al-Shabab militants that killed an undisclosed number of soldiers.

Fighters from the Somali militant group attacked the African Union base at El Adde, in the Gedo region of Somalia and near the Kenyan border, on January 15. Al-Shabab claim to have killed more than 100 Kenyan soldiers stationed at the base, though this figure has not been independently verified and the Kenyan authorities have so far refused to give an exact number.

Kenyatta spoke at a memorial service on Wednesday for the fallen soldiers in Eldoret, western Kenya, which was also attended by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari. Kenyatta rejected calls from opposition leaders to pull members of the Kenyan Defense Forces out of Somalia, saying that Al-Shabab would continue attacking Kenyan interests whether or not troops were stationed in the country.

“They [those calling for a withdrawal] have forgotten that the enemy has made it clear he will follow us home. And they have forgotten that, as good neighbors, we cannot leave the people of Somalia to the tender mercies of murderous terrorists,” said Kenyatta.

Kenyan soldiers have withdrawn from the El Adde base but remain nearby, Reuters reported on Tuesday, with a spokesman for Al-Shabab claiming the militants are now in control of the base.Newsweek contacted AMISOM for confirmation but no one was immediately available for comment.

The AU Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, has been active since 2007 and consists of more than 22,000 troops, over 3,600 of which are Kenyan. The mission has had success in reclaiming Somali territory from Al-Shabab, but the militants continue to carry out guerrilla attacks in Somalia and Kenya. Al-Shabab fighters killed at least 67 people in an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in September 2013, and gunmen from the group murdered 148 people at Garissa University College in April 2015.

Mohamud thanked the Kenyan government for its assistance in tackling Al-Shabab, whose members he described as “barbaric devils,” according to Reuters. Buhari, whose military is fightingBoko Haram insurgents in northeast Nigeria, expressed his solidarity with Kenyatta and urged the Kenyan president not to give up. “We must defeat terrorists, their sponsors and sympathizers,” said Buhari.



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