By Athman Amran
The Kenya Defence Forces’ (KDF) mandate to enforce peace in Somalia ends on October 31 but its future functions in that country will be determined by the current political road map of the new Somali Government.
If the mandate of the KDF together with the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom) is not renewed or extended, the mission will transit into a Peace Mission, Chief of Defence Forces General Julius Karangi has said.
Karangi said so far KDF and Amisom occupy 200,000 square kilometres of Somalia after taking over key towns ending with Kismayu, which had been the lifeline of the Al Shabaab militia.
He said the purpose of the KDF mission in Somalia was to degrade Al Shabaab who have been posing a threat to Kenya and safeguard the Kenyan borders.
“Now it is for the new Government to consolidate the gains,” Karangi said when Brand Kenya presented messages of goodwill by school children from various schools to the Kenyan forces in Somalia.
Concentrating on assistance
He said KDF is now concentrating on medical and food assistance and also drilling boreholes, all being done through the financial assistance of the Kenyan Government.
Karangi said sometime back the KDF was being taken for granted but now the international community has realised that the taking over of Kismayu is a game change at the global security level.
Defence Minister Yusuf Haji said during the operation in Somalia, Al Shabaab lost over 3,000 of their men and assorted arms and technicals have been captured. There are over 4,000 Kenyan soldiers in Somali under Amisom.
“Our troops upheld human rights while deployed in Somalia,” Haji said.
He however cautioned that while Al Shabaab is no longer in control of Southern Somalia, the group is still dangerous.