Today December 12 is Kenya’s National Day, and celebrating it will not be the usual wining and dining and exchanging pleasantries with our Kenyan friends and families. This year, the day has more significance on the East African region, and on an even higher level, the African Union because finally, Kenya has agreed to join the African Mission in Somalia.
Off course, we are reminded by diplomacy not to ask why Kenya waited for what seemed like eternity to make that critical decision. Never the less, by joining AMISOM, Kenyan Forces join other heroes in the Horn. We have written else where about the AU 69th meeting, where the AU Peace and Security Council agreed to the deployment of the African Union Mission in Somalia yet this pledge largely remains unfulfilled by most countries.
While AMISOM has been constantly seeking military and territorial victory over al-shabaab so as to empower the UN mandated Transitional Federal Government, Kenya’s not so late entry as another troop contributing country is remarkable.
Even as the Kenyan Parliamentarians seek to know about the exit strategy, they ought to remember that the journey to stabilise the Horn of Africa may be risky and many lives will be lost, but the goals of the total pacification of Africa remain clear. It is no longer a Kenyan mission but a UN/AU mission and Kenya’s exit strategy largely depends on the events in Somalia. And the Somalis share the burden of our contribution. With loud calls to abandon terrorism taking shape, people waiting in line to detonate themselves in strategic areas are abandoning the shabaab.
The Kenyan security minister says Kenya was not interested in an expansionist programme but goes to Somalia in a bid to defeat the militia and protect its territory against external aggression. We need to be reminded that this mission is neither a proxy war, nor an expansionist programme. It is in the best interest of Africa that Somalia is liberated, and terror comprehensively defeated. Africa then toasts to Kenya’s Parliament that voted unanimously and authorised the Kenya defense forces to join the mission.
So, many years after the fight for Independence for and by the Kenyan people, December 12 becomes a day of victory, bringing to mind the many people that sacrificed so much to set Kenya free. Kenyan military’s involvement in Somalia will bring freedom to the Somali people and an opportunity to build a new Somalia.
A terror free Somalia is possible. Most terror organizations across the world had their financial funding from Somalia because terrorists collected ‘tax’ and revenue from businesses and households and off course, had a unique control over the thriving piracy. In a welcome move, Nairobi has approved hosting of the Summit on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.
We also toast to the Kenyan media that highlighted the importance and significance of Kenya’s Operation Linda Nchi, when they took to fighting Somali armed groups. Now the Kenyan public put to rest the questions of whether this was a war, a battle or an operation.
Also, while the Kenyan Parliament urged the government to look for a structure where the “Kenya Defence Force enjoys some degree of command and operational independence”, are they contributing more forces than their Ugandan counterparts? I might be wrong, but leadership of the general Command ought to remain Ugandan because Uganda provides the largest number of troops.