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Governor Hassan Joho in US for global anti-extremism forum

By CYRUS OMBATI | Published Thu, February 16th 2017 at 08:00, Updated February 16th 2017 at 08:09 GMT +3
Governor Hasan Ali Joho (left) address journalists in a recent function on the right is Mombasa County CEC for Trade Khamis Mwanguya. [PHOTO: GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD].

Governor Hassan Joho is in Washington, US, where he was scheduled to meet top State Department officials.

Officials said Joho is scheduled to discuss rising violent extremism in the Coastal region.

Joho's spokesman Richard Chacha confirmed the governor's trip.

"Our delegation is going to support the governor's role in Strong Cities Network (SCN). His role is key in shaping the balance of power and its impact on cities which are facing conflict based on extreme ideologies, which is shifting in light of the new US administration," said Mr Chacha.

Mombasa was last year selected to join SCN-a network of cities across the world to combat violent extremism and promote cohesion.

SCN is a global initiative connecting cities and local authorities to protect communities by building resilience and strengthening social cohesion against violent extremism.

As a member of the SCN International Steering Committee, Mombasa will be at the forefront in developing and delivering community-based strategies and locally-led approaches to counter violent extremism.

According to Chacha, Joho's approach has been identified as having the potential to go beyond former US President Barrack Obama's counter-extremism approach which new US President Donald Trump's administration is seeking to change.

The governor's itinerary in Washington DC will include a meeting with Kareem Shora in the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USAID's Russell Porter.

The Mombasa delegation will also meet chairpersons of congressional and senate committees on Africa.

Joho is also expected to visit Adams Mosque before traveling to Montgomery County.

The Governor is expected to hold a round table meeting with Homeland Security officials.

Mombasa's contribution to the global debate on fighting extremism comes in the wake of rising cases of radicalisation among youths in the county.

Youths from the city's Majengo, Kisauni and Old Town areas believed to have been radicalised by Muslim extremists have been blamed for a number of violent attacks that shook the region's security and economy.

During the SCN forums, the Kenyan delegation is expected to study measures that have been employed by other cities in dealing with extremist violence.

Homegrown radicalisation in Kenya is on the rise given Al-Shabaab's presence in neighbouring Somalia.

The country has become a prime location for recruitment by the terrorist group.

Available reports show that since 2012, the Al-Shabaab has been actively recruiting from the coastal town and beyond, so much so that by December 2014, it was estimated that Kenyans comprised at least 25 per cent of members of the terrorist group in Somalia.

In retaliation, Kenya has taken an aggressive approach to countering extremism at home and abroad including plans in March 2015 to build a wall along its border with Somalia to keep out illegal immigrants and Al-Shabaab militia groups.