Kenya-US renew commitment to peace in Somalia, South Sudan
President Uhuru Kenyatta held a meeting with General Thomas Waldhauser, the US-Africa Command Commander on Wednesday morning where they discussed regional security including the situation in Somalia and South Sudan.
During the meeting, President Kenyatta told General Waldhauser that Kenya is firmly committed to the cause of finding peace in Somalia, an aspiration that has in the past been negated by lack of adequate capacity, and proper military commands.
Political turmoil in South Sudan, said President Kenyatta, has been made worse by unwarranted fear and mistrust between supporters of President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar.
President Kenyatta, however, said hope to restore stability in both countries was not lost and partner-states working towards peace in the region would remain committed to the cause.
“We shall give it everything we can. But it is not going to be easy,” said President Kenyatta in reference to South Sudan.
President Kenyatta said Somalia faces further challenges of mistrust and internal politics between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and regional governments.
“The deteriorating relationships between the TFG and the regional governments is of major concern to us,” said President Kenyatta, further adding that the conflict is a major security threat to Kenya and the region.
He called for structures that will enable the TFG to work with the regional governments.
The President counseled that, for peace and stability to be restored in Somalia, its leadership needs to refocus its attention and energies into addressing issues that cause national divisions and avoid being drawn into partisan distractions.
On his part, General Waldhauser underlined the need for Somalia to strengthen its leadership structures adding that the instability is partly due to indirect interference from certain Gulf countries.
“We are ready to continue assisting the country so long as the federal government is willing to accept our support,” said Gen Waldhauser who called for neutrality from the Gulf countries that are extending their differences to the Horn of Africa nation.
“The differences and clashes in these Arabian countries are playing out in Somalia. We call for their neutrality,” said the top US military officer.
The General said the US will continue its training programmes for the Somalia National Army (SNA) with the expectation that the Federal Government will work on the requisite structures for the trained personnel to operate effectively.
Turning to the situation in South Sudan, President Kenyatta said there is need to make both President Kiir and Machar to truly appreciate the benefits of working together.
The President said that the IGAD partner states are committed to keeping pressure on the two leaders to work together for the benefit of the people of South Sudan.
President Kenyatta regretted that the South Sudan problem had taken an ethnic dimension between supporters of the two leaders.
Gen. Waldhauser said the US is committed to continued partnership with Kenya and lauded President Kenyatta’s upbeat economic agenda.
Responding to a question raised by the military leader, President Kenyatta said the Big 4 Agenda aims at creating social harmony among Kenyans so as to create a favourable environment for wealth and job creation through manufacturing , affordable housing, universal healthcare and food security.
President Kenyatta further said that the aim of his government is to establish an irreversible trajectory of growth and development that is totally dependent on robust institutions.
General Waldhauser was accompanied to the meeting held at State House Nairobi by Brigadier General James Craig, the US Horn of Africa Commander and US Ambassador Robert Godec.