Sunday, Dec 21st 2014

Why Somali President wants Kenya army out

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 00:00 -- BY STAR REPORTER

Somali President Shariff Sheikh Ahmed is opposed to the deployment of Kenyan troops in his country because he believes it is an attempt by Kenya to create an autonomous Jubaland. Communication from as far back as March 2011 between President Shariff and President Kibaki shows that the Somali leader asked Kenya not to deploy to Juba region an estimated 2,500 young Somali soldiers who had been trained and equipped in Kenya.

President Shariff was worried
that the youth, if deployed in the Juba region, would help former
Somali Defence minister Mohamed Ghandi whom Mogadishu suspects is attempting to
create a separate state for himself between Kenya and the Juba River. President Shariff on Monday issued a statement saying Kenyan troops were not welcome in Somalia. He said Kenya had gone against the original agreement of providing logistical support when it sent in soldiers to pursue the Al Shabaab militia group.

His statements were however criticised by several Somali leaders including the military spokesman and ordinary citizens who said they welcomed Kenya's help to tame the al-Shabaab. Yesterday, President Shariff and his Prime Minister Abdiweli issued a
statement denying that there was any agreement between the two
governments for the intervention of Kenyan military in Somalia.

They
said they were opposed to Kenya's intervention but conceded that the
two countries had a common interest to fight against the militia group. "The government will not break its decision on this issue.,
Wew have asked Kenya to assist the Somalia fovernment in training and
supporting the Somali a army buy not to intervene in Somalia,” President Sharif
said at the joint press conference he and his PM addressed after a closed door
meeting.

“We do not have agreement with Kenya. We understood that we
need to defend against the militants but there is no proof saying that we
agreed with Kenya," PM Abdiweli said. Somalia’s pro-government militias of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamma
and Ras Kamboni have supported
Kenya’s intervention and criticized the TFG president for opposing the presence of the Kenyan military.

Internal Security minister George Saitoti yesterday wrote to the Somali government demanding an explanation on President Shariff's remarks as well as conflicting media media reports about the Somali government’s position on
the ongoing military co-operation. "In the light of this the Kenya
Government is seeking clarification of the Somali government’s position as it
is essential to have a unified approach in dealing with the destabilization of
Somalia by Al Shabaab and its threats to peace and security to Kenya and the region," Saitoti's letter read. "In the meantime Kenya with
collaboration with IGAD and AU, is continuing with the operation against Al
Shabaab."

While Kenya wanted the soldiers it had trained to form a
buffer between Kenya and the Al Shabaab-controlled regions around
Mogadishu, the Somalia Transitional Government wanted them sent to
Mogadishu to fight Islamist militia. Ethiopia
too has objected to the creation of Jubaland mainly inhabited by
the Ogaden and Merehan clans. Addis Ababa feels that would
encourage separatist passion in the Ogaden Region of Ethiopia.

The
decision by the Kenya government to recruit mainly from the Ogaden
resulted in complaints from other clans. The Ogaden clan primarily lives
in the Central Ogaden plateau of Ethiopia, the North-Eastern Province
of Kenya, and the Jubaland region of Southern Somalia. They also inhabit
Somalia's major cities such as Mogadishu and Kismayo. The
Marehan mostly live in Jubaland, Gedo and Lower Juba regions in
Southwest Somalia and in Northeast Kenya. They are considered the most
fierce nationalists among the Somali people and have always played key
roles in both the Somali uprisings.

In a letter dated March 21
and addressed to President Kibaki, the Somali President acknowledges the
role Kenya has played in training and equipping the army of youths. "Excellency
we are particularly indebted for the training and equipping our forces
in Kenya. We pray that a peaceful Somali and region will enjoy
Strengthened friendship and prosperity," states President Shariff. The letter was handed to
President Kibaki in Nairobi by Somali Prime Minister Abdirashid Ali
Sharmarke.

Due
to suspicions against his former Defence minister Ghandi, President
Shariff in the letter to President Kibaki transferred the responsibility
of the coordination of the youth recruits from Ghandi to then
Defense Minister Abdullah Boss. "I write to you this letter to
inform you that the bilateral security responsibilities including the
coordination and follow up of Somali force training in Kenya that we
previously assigned to our former Minister of Defense and current
Minister for Air and Land Transportation HE Mohamed Abdi Gandi is hereby
transferred to our current Ministry of Defense," the letter says.

The
Somali President further transferred the responsibility of regional
administrators trained in Kenya to the current Interior minister of
Somalia, Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig. "There are people who are
unhappy of the training that you have provided for our forces and the
regional administration and wish to deny this region and Somalia any
peace and stability. We wish to correct this situation administratively
by bringing the military force under the department of Defense and the
regional administration under the ministry of interior," stated the
Somali President.

In late March 2011, Gandi hosted elders from the
Marehaan and Ogaden - who are the main clans in Gedo and Juba regions of
Somalia - at Chester House in Nairobi to discuss the stalemate in the
deployment process. In the meeting Gandi discussed with the clan elders a possible withdrawal of support to the government.

Meanwhile, thousands of Somalis at the Dadaab,Ifo and Hagadera refugee camps yesterday held a peaceful demonstration
against President Shariff and to voice their support for the military operation. Hagadera
camp Chairman Kussow Abdi Nuni said they supported the intervention as frequent incursions into Kenya by Somali militiamen had negatively
affected their peaceful stay in the country.

He
said Shariff’s sentiments were out of touch with the reality on
the ground as al-Shabaab had carried out frequent raids forcing humanitarian organisations working in the camps to scaled down or stop their operations altogether putting
the lives of thousands of Somali refugees in jeopardy. “As
the refugee community we have to be grateful to Kenya for giving us a
safe haven for more than two decades. We condemn insecurity and that is
why we support the Kenyan opearion in Somalia”, said Kussow.