Kenya gets Sh9.5 billion to fight Al Shabaab

CORD and ODM leader Raila Odinga shared the Opposition coalition’s call for Kenyan troops to leave Somalia with the visiting United States Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, on the day the top official in US.

President Barack Obama’s administration announced that his country had given Kenya $100 million (Sh9.5 billion) to fight Al Shabaab.

“We are assisting Kenya in border security, intelligence sharing, security co-operation, equipment, training of military and security personnel, counter-terrorism strategy and investigations,” Kerry said.

The two also discussed CORD’s demand for reforms in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission ahead of the 2017 elections. Kerry met Raila and other Opposition leaders after meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta and other senior government officials.

United States President Barack Obama's government has given Kenya $100 million (Sh9.5 billion) to fund the war against Al-Shabaab terrorists.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the money was part of US assistance to Kenya in the global fight against terrorism following a spate of attacks on Kenyan soil by the militants that have claimed hundreds of lives.

"We are assisting Kenya in border security, intelligence sharing, security co-operation, equipment, training of military and security personnel, counter terrorism strategy and investigations," he said.

But Mr Kerry cautioned Kenya against profiling the Muslim and Somali community in the country, saying there is a need for a long term strategy that will end radicalisation.

"Success of this strategy depends on building trust among communities and authorities and that includes the Muslim community and Somali refugees. Human rights and rule of law must be upheld in counter terrorism war," he said.

Kerry also announced in Nairobi that his Government would give the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) over $45 million (Sh4.3 billion) in extra cash to help it protect and assist some 600,000 refugees residing in Kenya.

The funding to UNHCR provides for basic needs, including food, shelter, education, and health care, as well as voluntary repatriation to countries of origin, where security permits.

Refugees' plight

Among those who will benefit from this assistance are 419,000 Somali refugees in Dadaab and elsewhere, as well as 45,000 additional refugees who have arrived from South Sudan since conflict broke out in December 2013.

Kerry said he had discussed with President Uhuru Kenyatta the plight of refugees, saying that Kenya had agreed to the repatriation of refugees voluntarily.

"I did discuss the Daadab issue with President Kenyatta, but I didn't have to demand anything. It's a challenge to the country to host refugees and its understandable, but we agree Daadab will remain open as we find ways of the refugees to go back home," Kerry told journalists when asked if they had made any demands following Deputy President William Ruto's three month ultimatum to UNHCR to close the champ.

The announcement came following a daylong flurry of meetings between Kerry and local leaders including President Kenyatta, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Opposition leaders led by Raila Odinga.

State House later issued a statement confirming that the threat of terrorism and ways the United States can support Kenya in combating it were discussed at length by President Kenyatta and Kerry.

"The President said Kenya needs support in terms of training, equipment and surveillance. He also said that the Government needs to work more closely with the US to control financing of terrorism," the statement added.

The US top diplomat who arrived in the country on Sunday began his day by visiting the site of the 1998 bombing of then US embassy in downtown Nairobi. Over 200 people were killed in an attack that Al Qaeda claimed responsibility.

Thereafter Kerry held separate meetings, first with Uhuru at State House, Nairobi. Then he met Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leaders at a Nairobi hotel, Mutunga, US embassy staff and later held a video conference with Daadab refugees from the UNHCR headquarters.

While meeting the CJ, Kerry said: "I know the incredible work you're doing to change the Judiciary and reform things and move things forward. In your appointments, I've seen younger people, women, everything. It's very exciting, very exciting. I want to talk to you about it. We'll get there."

This morning, Kerry will meet civil society activists at Boniface Mwangi's Power 254 offices off State House Road.

The meeting with CORD leaders covered a range of issues including national security, internal reforms, war on corruption, Somalia and regional stability, with particular focus on Burundi and South Sudan.

Raila, Kalonzo Musyoka and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula attended the meeting at Serena Hotel that also discussed electoral reforms, devolution, land and systems of governance with particular attention to inclusivity in Government. The Opposition chiefs also told the US diplomat that they wanted the Kenya Defence Forces pulled out of Somalia.

"The other thing Africans will want to see is the US or British troops taking a leading role in operations in Somalia and other African countries. It's a privilege, even as it's a burden, that Kenya is playing leading role in Somalia. KDF is doing an extraordinary job and making progress in Somalia. Kenya will be safer if Somalia is more stable and Sudan is peaceful. Amisom needs more boost. However, we need an exit strategy," Kerry said.

Reformed IEBC

On internal reforms, CORD and Kerry agreed on the need to make the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) more efficient and credible ahead of the next General Eelection. Both the US and Kenyan Opposition delegation were positive that the next elections need to be held under the auspices of a fundamentally reformed IEBC.

At the former US Embassy bomb blast site, Kerry said the only place for Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Daesh, and other militia is in the past.

"Yes, they can reduce a building to rubble; and yes, they can even deprive innocent people of their lives. But they do not give anyone anything of what really makes life worthwhile: a sense of looking out for one another, of creating something valuable and new, of living in dignity and honour.

Without a doubt, those who delight in the suffering and death of others have actually already lost everything that makes life worth living," he said.