By Ally Jamah
The US has commended the decision by Kenya and Ethiopia to join the African Union force fighting Al Shabaab militants in Somalia.
US Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs Johnnie Carson said on Tuesday in a teleconference with Kenyan journalists, from Washington DC, that Kenya and Ethiopia should strengthen the African Union Mission in Somalia ( Amisom) and use it to fight the militants in Somalia.
"The best way to deal with Al Shabaab and address the security threat in Somalia is to use Amisom as the core element in the fighting and to work from Mogadishu in helping the Transitional Federal Government extend its authority," he said.
The 7,000-strong African Union force, composed mainly of Ugandan and Burundian troops, is locked in an intense battle with Al Shabaab in Mogadishu and seeks to extend the authority of the Transitional Federal Government throughout Somalia.
"The last time Ethiopia entered Somalia did not see a very successful outcome in stabilising the country. In fact, it is their presence that spawned Al Shabaab. We urge Kenya and Ethiopia to work through Amisom to address the security challenges facing them from Somalia," he said.
Carson said that he appreciated the difficulties Kenya is facing in dealing with the insecurity emanating from Somalia.
"I urge them (Kenya and Ethiopia) to work with Amisom in advancing the stability of Somalia instead of going it alone," he said.
Meanwhile the US Embassy in Nairobi has strongly denied reports that US marines are involved in organising security for the upcoming Lamu Cultural Festival.
Only seven marines
Katya Thomas, the information officer at the embassy said there are only seven marines working in Kenya and all of them are based at the US Embassy.
"That report is totally inaccurate and without any basis. The US is not involved in any way in the security arrangements of the event," she said. The event begins on Wednesday.