Uhuru pays tributes to KDF troops in Somalia amid diplomatic row
NAIROBI, Kenya - Despite the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Kenya and Somalia, Nairobi is seemingly keen to continue playing peacekeeping roles within the Horn of Africa nation, Garowe Online reports.
While leading Kenya in Mashujaa (Heroes) Day celebration in Mombasa on Sunday, President Uhuru Kenyatta anchored his speech on peaceful coexistence within Africa, lauding KDF troops serving in Somalia.
For Somalis to stabilize, Uhuru said, his the government will continue offering both logistical and military support, adding that the crisis 'should not affect trade' between the two nations.
"I wish to celebrate our troops for the role they have played in peacekeeping missions across the world. We have seen then work diligently in Somalia as we try to seek long-lasting solutions," said Uhuru.
"Our men and women who are serving in Somalia are our heroes of today. As a neighbor, we have an obligation to ensure stability has been established," he said, adding that the troops will continue serving in AMISOM.
Kenya first deployed her troops to Somalia following persistent attacks waged by Al-Qaida associates Al-Shabaab in 2011. The decision faced resistance, with politicians terming it an 'incursion'.
In 2012, Kenya agreed to have the troops under AMISOM, which is sponsored by the UN and AU. The troops man mainly Sector 2 and 6 within Jubaland state. They managed to liberate Kismayo the same year.
Uhuru's remarks were buoyed by the speech delivered in Mandera by Governor Ali Roba, who said that the county is ready to help foster peace in Somalia, adding that the county leadership is ready to join Nairobi's mission to stabilize Somalia.
"Mandera being very close neighbors with Somalia offer to help in bringing our two countries pull together because that is our patriotic mandate to our country and true commitment of our neighborliness and friendship with Somalia," observed Roba.
"We are ready to join the discussions if invited to do so since this is the mandate of the National Government and The Federal Republic of Somalia," he added.
Even with the commitment by Uhuru and Roba to help normalize operations in Somalia, the two countries have been tussling over oil deposits of the Indian Ocean.
The International Court of Justice postponed the maritime case between the two nations last week. The case will be heard on June 2020. It had been initially rescheduled for hearing from November 4th.
On Friday, Kenya opposed a petition by a group of 20 people who now wants Nairobi to pull out of the ICJ case. Through lawyer Paul Nyamodi, the government said it's ready to participate in the case.
“Kenya will participate responsibly before the ICJ. The petition is not merited because it invites the court to agree with the assumptions of the petitioners,” he argued.
Uhuru had opted for negotiations with Somalia, arguing that Kenya prefers dialogue rather than a hectic court process in the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
“In the same spirit, my administration continues to reach out to Somalia in an effort to find an amicable and sustainable solution to the maritime boundary dispute between us,” he told UN General Assembly in September.
But Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo insisted that Mogadishu believes in the court settlement of the dispute.
According to him, the relationship between Kenya and Somalia should not be comprised simply because of the current case which the ICJ has jurisdictions to hear and determine.
"We are happy that the ICJ found that it has jurisdictions to hear the case and it has scheduled it for November. Somalia as a member of the UN is keen to see this court settlement to its end," Farmajo told the UN.
Also, the federal government of Somalia has accused Kenya of interfering with her sovereignty by openly imposing Jubaland President Ahmed Islam Madobe during the controversial August polls.
Tentatively, KDF has scheduled 2021 as the final year of robust mission in Somalia. But the troops will only exit after fully training and enhancing Somali National Army according to Lieutenant General Robert Kibochi, the Vice Chief of Defense Forces.
Reporting by Abuga Makori in Nairobi; Editing by Omar Nor