Ruto: Somalia leader is more positive, I'll support his bid to defeat Al-Shabaab
NAIROBI, Kenya - Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is a statesman who understands complex issues in the region, Kenya's President William Ruto has said, noting that the Horn of Africa nation's leader is "more progressive" and "flexible" on issues to do with governance.
Ruto, who assumed office as Kenya's president this month, said he was confident that the new Somalia leadership would cooperate with Kenya in the stabilization of the region for the sake of peace and stability within the Horn of Africa, which has been facing chaos.
Dr Ruto acknowledged that he has already held two meetings with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, adding that "I find him a more flexible and easy-going leader who is keen to overturn fortunes in that country". Hassan Sheikh was elected in May 2021 by the country's legislators.
Kenya, Ruto said, will continue working closely with Somalia in the fight against terrorism, arguing that already, the East African nation has over 3,500 Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] troops who are serving in Somalia. The troops have been in the country for over a decade.
"If find Hassan Sheikh a man committed to fighting terrorism," Dr Ruto said. "We are a country have borne the brunt of Al-Shabaab attacks and even our security officers in Somalia. We shall ensure that the cooperation is taken to the highest level so that we solve this issue."
Further, Dr Ruto maintained that Kenya's immediate challenge was insecurity in Somalia, downplaying diplomatic differences between the two countries which almost paralyzed operations between Mogadishu and Nairobi during the reign of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
Also, Dr Ruto said the maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia was not a matter of priority, noting that the country can solve the matter with Kenya having found a lasting solution for peace and stability. He termed the differences "small issues" which can be dealt with once peace is achieved.
"Our main focus, for now, is a stabilization of Somalia and issues to do with maritime can be handled at a later date," Dr Ruto said. "There is nothing wrong with us handling the matter once we have a stable government in Somalia and I believe that's the best strategy."
The International Court of Justice recently ruled in favour of Somalia on a maritime dispute with Kenya, a move that will see most oil-rich deposits be owned by Somalia. However, Kenya protested the verdict on the Indian Ocean maritime dispute, adding that it would not obey the ruling.