> Kenya: Somalia - What Next After Linda Nchi
1 November 2011
For over two decades, the international community has chosen piecemeal
tactics to deal with Somalia. Kenya has tacitly played along, diligently
attending the monthly international meetings on Somalia and numerous peace
negotiations. Numerous agreements have been signed by Somalis to end
violence over the last two decades but peace and stability continues to
elude the country.
Instead of hosting yet another Somalia conference, Kenya was last month
forced to make the difficult decision of deploying its men and women to
Somalia to defend its national security. Operation Linda Nchi has so far
received national support. Kenyans are simply fed up by what they see as
perceptions from the Al-shabaab of Kenya's military incapacity to respond
even to direct attacks in its hinterland. With an economy that heavily
depends on tourism, Al-shabaab made the wrong decision in targeting tourists
in Lamu ,western humanitarian workers in Dadaab Camp and Kenyan military
personnel who have frequently been killed or harmed in ambushes executed by
The international community has given a covert nod to Kenya's efforts-the
communique issued and adopted by the IGAD Council of Ministers on 21 October
and many of Kenya's partners have expressed their support in different ways
including through technical support. Kenya has been one of the strongest
supporters of President Ahmed. Early this year, the Speaker of the Federal
Parliament, launched a vicious attack against the President pushing for
elections to be held by last August. That would have seen the president's
It was Kenya that led the charge in convincing the international community,
the UN security council, and Somalis to extend his mandate for one more
year. The Kenyan government felt that there was a need to consolidate the
gains made by AMISOM after making early inroads in Mogadishu. It was too
early to hold elections with no electoral or legal framework to guide such
an exercise. This support, was in spite of reports that President Ahmed was
being propped up by the radical Al-Sheikh group.
Earlier statements attributed to Somali's President Sheikh Ahmed as
criticizing the military actions of Kenya were therefore shocking to Kenya,
and many in the international community. It is somewhat reassuring that the
Transitional Federal Government and the TFG Prime minister have clarified
this position in the communique signed on 18 October in Mogadishu and now
lodged with the United Nations Security Council.
Kenya's goal must be to ensure that there is a stable federal government in
Somalia. The instruments guiding this roadmap -the Djibouti Process and the
Kampala Accords-all recommend that the TFG must make deliberate attempts to
negotiate with all the players in Somalia including Al-shabaab. This is the
point I was making when I said that as an honest broker in the Somalia
crisis, Kenya must always leave a window of opportunity for a negotiated
settlement in Somalia . This window of opportunity must include Al-shabaab
as long as they renounce violence.
The government of Somalia must now takes its responsibilities seriously. The
governments of Uganda and Burundi have made enough sacrifices in the
battleground to save Somalia. Other African countries such as Djibouti and
Sudan who are willing to provide extra troops must be encouraged to do so
The international contact group on Somalia must recognize and accept the
inclusion of other players such as China and Turkey. The government of
Somalia needs to be pressured to govern. President Sheikh Sharif needs to
rid himself off the Al-Sheikh extremists around him that are making it
difficult for him to bring real reconciliation to Somalia. He must rise up
to be a statesman and bridge the differences among the various clans. Prime
Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali has elaborated clear priorities for his
government; it is now time to deliver.
The TFG must realize it is time to adopt a new constitution that will usher
in a new set of leaders and institutions by August 2012; to build a civil
service that works; time to build a military and police force that can
protect its people and time to ensure that no more refugees flow into Dadaab
and other capitals of the world.
The TFG government must deliver peace, stability and development to its
people. That is what the people deserve. The international community can
help, but the seriousness and leadership must start with the Somali people.
They have shown resilience in the face of war and famine, they surely can
triumph in times of peace.
As Kenya engages in Somalia, we must be aware that this engagement
preemptively includes insurgency, counterinsurgency, and propaganda. We must
be steadfast and clear in our strategic objectives and provide an exit
strategy. This may include a three pronged approach.
Firstly, we must proceed vigorously on the military front by suffocating the
Al-shabaab from Kismayu to Mogadishu. To consolidate the gains made by
AMISOM and the Kenyan forces, the international partners and the United
Nations Security Council should fast-track the deployment of AMISOM to the
projected 20,000 troops from the current 9,000 troops.
Secondly, we must endeavor to implement the proposals of the UN
Secretary-General, IGAD and the African Union on counter-piracy efforts. In
the report issued this week for consideration by the Security Council on 31
October, the UN Secretary-General encourages member states and
multi-national organizations participating in naval operations off the Coast
of Somalia to use their forces in addressing the root causes of piracy and
continue to develop land-based initiatives to strengthen regional maritime
and law-enforcement capacity, especially those of Somalia. We must institute
a sea blockade of Kismayu that both IGAD and the AU have requested for the
last few years. All these efforts together, will make a huge dent in cutting
off the lifeline for Al-shabaab and the pirates.
Thirdly, Kenya must realize that logistical support is needed urgently to
sustain and consolidate current gains including in the region of south
central Somalia and a liberated Kismayo port. We must allow an immediate
installation of governance structures by the Somali people from the regions
liberated to fill the vacuum left by the Al-shabaab departure.
Quick-impact projects such as schools, hospitals, police stations , and
roads must be provided immediately. Peace and security must be prioritized
for the population to feel secure. Provision of basic services such as
water, sanitation, and relief food must be immediate. The international
community must engage and give the requisite resources for this exercise.
They must not tire or suffer.
Richard M. Onyonka is an assistant minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The
views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Kenyan
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Received on Tue Nov 01 2011 - 14:10:40 EDT