“The top priority for the Federal Government of Somalia is to protect its citizens, so that the federal government forces and AMISOM can bring peace and stability in the area and take over the national infrastructure and reorganize Somali National Army and improve the political process,” SFG Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fozia Yusuf Adan
“I think there is a lot of work for all of us and there will be very little time for us to complain, all of us are in control of our countries but in order to be in control of an area, you have to have some stability there, you must have security, you must have acceptance from the locals … that is what the Somali government must do, it must get the confidence of its people so that it can go and establish all these institutions without any opposition.” Kenya secretary for foreign affairs Ambassador Amina Mohamed
By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun – Control of Jubaland and the lucrative trade flowing through the Kismayo port has created animosity between the governments of Kenya and Somalia.
Kenya controls Jubaland the new administrative region of Somalia after its troops, as part of an African Union peacekeeping force, routed al Shabaab rebels from Kismayo in September but fighting flared up and dozens of civilians died as rival warlords each claimant to the presidency of Jubaland
Tensions that have been simmering for months between Kenya and the Somali federal government-SFG, took a new dimension recently when the Kenya secretary for foreign affairs Ambassador Amina Mohamed accused her Somalia counterpart Ms Fozia Yusuf of maligning the Kenyan government during a meeting in Nairobi.
According to sources the Kenyans are incensed by a diplomatic letter from Ms Fozia Yusuf to the African Union which accuses Nairobi of backing Ahmed Madobe, a former warlord whose militia fought beside the Kenyans and who now controls Kismayo. Mogadishu opposes Madobe’s leadership.
The Nairobi meeting turned acrid as the two ladies and foreign policy chiefs of the two countries, both originally from somaliland are reported to have argued vehemently on the issue of Kismayo with the Kenya’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Amb Amina Mohamed accusing Ms Fozia Yusuf who also doubles as the SFG’s deputy prime minister of slandering the Kenyan government through the letter (See below) which was leaked to journalists.
The letter submitted to AMISOM by the SFG Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fawzia Yusuf Adam – who is also the deputy prime minister – to the African Union is headed “Extremely Urgent – Kismayo conflict” accuses the Kenyan army of causing recent faction fighting that left at least 65 dead in the port of Kismayo. Kenyan troops are part of the African Union force battling Islamist militants in support of the UN-backed government.
The letter and subsequent fallout between the foreign ministers exposed a rift between the Somali government and Kenyan troops – supposedly allies with Mogadishu alleging that the Kenyans, who are part of the African Union peacekeeping force, Amisom, of not being neutral peacekeepers while alleging that the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) backed one Somali faction against others, arrested a senior Somali government army officer and used heavy weapons in areas containing civilians.
What the letter bluntly called the “incompetence” of the Kenyan commander of Amisom in southern Somalia is said to have caused an outbreak of recent fighting in the southern port city of Kismayo that had led to a “preliminary” count of 65 dead and 155 injured”.
The Kenyan Amisom contingent was recently reinforced by several hundred troops from Sierra Leone who are “embedded” inside Kenyan units, so the KDF is very much the dominant force in this part of Somalia, which is known in Amisom jargon as “Sector 2”.
The letter calls for the “immediate deployment” of a multinational African peacekeeping force in southern Somalia.
It doesn’t go as far to say the Kenyans should be replaced, but pointedly says new “political officers” should be appointed for the area “whose nationalities will be different from the Amisom contingent in Sector 2”.
Kenya has not yet officially responded to this explosive diplomatic letter, though the anger and acrimony of the two Somalilanders Ms Fozia Yusuf and Amb Amina Mohamed who are the Somalia and Kenya ministers of foreign affairs respectively is ample evidence of what the two governments supposedly allies turned enemies stand.
While Somalilanders are proud of their natives whenever and wherever they hold senior positions they also hope the two ladies who are very powerful within IGAD and African diplomatic circles would take time to campaign for the international recognition of their homeland.
During the just concluded Kampala conference of African heads contributing troops to AMISOM, Kenya was asked and agreed to hand over control of Kismayo to the Somalia Federal Government-SFG in Mogadishu in efforts aimed at defusing the rising tension between the two countries.
The decision of the leaders from the troop contributing countries to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) followed protests from the Somali government against Kenya that it should be allowed to control the port and airport and also remit revenues to the central government.
In her address at the Kampala meeting Ms Fozia Yusuf said “The top priority for the Federal Government of Somalia is to protect its citizens, so that the federal government forces and AMISOM can bring peace and stability in the area and take
over the national infrastructure and reorganize Somali National Army and improve the political process,”
In reply her Kenyan counterpart said, “I think there is a lot of work for all of us and there will be very little time for us to complain,” she added. “All of us are in control of our countries but in order to be in control of an area, you have to have some stability there, you must have security, you must have acceptance from the locals … that is what the Somali government must do, it must get the confidence of its people so that it can go and establish all these institutions without any opposition.”
A day prior to the push and shove encounter between Ms Yusuf and Ms Mohamed the Kenyan government had released a statement through Defence Principal Secretary Monica Juma that read:
“We are ready to exit Kismayo and this must be done in an orderly manner to avoid compromising security gains achieved,” as she informed that “The chief of the Kenya Defence Forces will meet soon to discuss on the modalities of handing over Kismayo to Somalis.”
According to Juma and Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanji Kibicho , “A negotiated handover between the federal government and regional administrations would prevent feelings of discrimination and inequality”.
The two officials warned that failure to incorporate regional administrations could cause “serious deterioration of the security situation”.
Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, who chaired the Kampala meeting, said at the opening of the one-day meeting that it was an opportunity to assess the successes, challenges and the future of AMISOM.
He said the existing cooperation between the Somali government, international partners and troop contributing countries was critical to the security gains.
“It is essential that this support continues and is carried out by all in a well-coordinated manner, in order to consolidate the security gains made and deny giving extremist groups like Al-Shabaab,” he said.
“As troop contributing countries it is also essential that we remain steadfast in our resolve and determination so that the sacrifices we have made are not in vain,” he added.
The meeting came at a time when some Somali officials have accused one of the troop contributing countries for interfering in the internal politics of the country
MEETING OF THE HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE TROOP CONTRIBUTING COUNTRIES OF THE AFRICAN UNION MISSION IN SOMALIA (AMISOM), ETHIOPIA AND SOMALIA:
KAMPALA, UGANDA; 4TH AUGUST 2013
Read the final COMMUNIQUÉ