Kenya, Somalia seek extension of Amisom

Kenya and Somalia have called on the UN Security Council to extend the mandate of African Union mission forces in Somalia (Amisom) to sustain the road to stability.

On Friday, the two governments said Amisom has already contributed to Somalia’s pursuit of peace and that it would be important to for the forces to continue staying in Somalia much longer.

President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya met his Somali counterpart Hassan Mohamoud, whom he had invited, in Nairobi upon which they released a joint communiqué calling on the Council to empower the AU forces.

The ten-point statement said the two leaders had “held wide ranging consultations on various issues” but specifically emphasised on the importance of security and peace in Somalia as key to the economic growth of the East African region.

“The two leaders noted with appreciation the role of Amisom in liberating Somalia from Al-Shabaab militants,” the statement delivered by Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri said in part.

“They called on the UN Security Council to consider favourably the extension of the mandate of Amisom (African Union Mission in Somalia) so that it can continue helping in the consolidation of peace and security in Somalia.”

The authority of Amisom forces to which the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) is enjoined is set to expire on March 7, 2013.

UNSC provided the forces with the mandate to help rebuild Somalia, long bruised by the two-decade civil war.

The Council extended the mandate for Amisom in November for four months instead of the expected for 12, meaning Amisom would run out of authority to combat militia group, Al-Shabaab, by March 7, next year.

At the time, UNSC argued it needed time to allow for a review of operations by the Forces that included considering whether to lift an arms embargo and resumption of stocks of charcoal in the newly liberated Kismayu.

The combined African Union mission consists of over 17,600 peacekeepers that are helping the Mogadishu government to fight rebels in Somalia

The country recently voted in a national assembly for the first time in 20 years and elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud to re-stitch the tattered country.

At State House in Nairobi, President Mohamoud paid a glowing tribute to Kenya’s role in helping stabilise Mogadishu.

He was also clear as to what position he takes on the presence of KDF in his country.

“Somalia has received unwavering support from Kenya especially through sending military forces to fight the threat of Al-shabaab and hosting of Somalia refugees,” he said.

“Right now, we are moving from chaos to peace and stability. We are working to have a Somalia that is at peace with itself.”

The two leaders also said they “acknowledged” the situation of refugees living in camps and said they would work on modalities with the international community to return them to Somalia.

It is not clear when the refugees, whom they admitted were living in “crowded” conditions, would finally be taken back home.

But they announced to start working on it as soon as possible.

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