Kenya has an exit strategy from Somalia – officials

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 2 – The government has a strategy for withdrawing Kenyan troops from Somalia, Senate National Security and Foreign Relations committee Chairman Yusuf Hajji has said.
Following a consultative meeting with Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, Defence CS Rachelle Omamo, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and Intelligence boss Philip Kameru, Hajji said the government had a plan that was ‘under wraps’ adding that the Senate was working on its proposal to be presented to the Cabinet.

The Garissa Senator said the Security Committee had since planned a retreat set for June 18 to collect more views and opinions to build up on their proposed exit strategy.

“The aim is to come up with a ‘white paper’ that will detail a strategy on how to fight insecurity in Kenya,” he said.

The meeting called for by the Senate Security committee also discussed the de-radicalization of youth with the government informing the Senate of the process it is initiating in the hard-hit areas.

The withdrawal according to Hajji is however pegged on African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) which dictates how countries signed to the peace mission can be allowed to withdraw. This means for Kenya to withdraw, there must be another capable Country to take its place because a vacuum may weaken the force and give the ‘enemy’ an upper hand.

READ: Help Kenya exit Somalia, CORD tells America

It is close to four years since the Kenya Defence Forces were deployed to Somalia to contain the terror menace after the kidnapping of tourists from the Kenyan Coast. The deployment was to secure Kenya and containing the terror threat by creating a buffer zone on the Somali side, but it did not.

In 2012, the troops joined the AMISOM following the capturing of the strategic port town of Kismayo from the Al-Shabaab militants. After this, attacks have rocked various parts of the country and the most recent being the Garissa University College terror attack which left 142 students dead early last month.

American troops withdrew in 1993 after mass casualties while Ethiopian troops withdrew in 2009. This however created a security vacuum which was exploited by Al-Shabaab.

During last month’s visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry, he urged the country to first stabilize Somalia before pulling out.

“We need the exit strategy, but it needs to be a success and we need a clearer sense of how the success will come,” Kerry said.

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