The Star (Nairobi)

31 October 2011

Kenya: Somali Prime Minister Arrives to Explain Position

SOMALI Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali arrived in Nairobi yesterday to clarify his government's position on Kenya's involvement in the war against the Al Shabaab militants.

The PM is here at the invitation of the government which had last week requested an explanation after the Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed claimed the military operation had been undertaken without seeking agreement with his government. This position was however in conflict with that taken by some of the Somali government and military officials who see the operation as an extension of Kenya's support to get rid of the Al shabaab militia.

Last week, the Somali PM issued a statement confirming as much and said that the military operation would improve the security of Somalia, Kenya and of the entire Horn of Africa. But at a later press conference addressed jointly with President Ahmed in Mogadishu, Ali is said to have disowned any agreement with Kenya to enter Somalia. "We do not have agreement with Kenya. We understand that we need to defend against the militants but there is no proof saying that we agreed with Kenya," Ali is quoted as saying.

Although Ali had issued a press statement restating his government's support for the ongoing Kenyan-led onslaught on Al Shabaad, Kenya has insisted on nothing short of an official clarification hence the PM's visit. The Somali ambassador to Kenya Mohammed Noor said PM Ali was scheduled to meet with his counterparty, Raila Odinga today.

Ali's visit follow's a written request for explanation from Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti whos aid the conflicting reports needed to be clarified as it was essential that the two countries present a unified approach in dealing with Al Shabaab. The Kenya government has said it will continue with the operation until the militia group is dismantled.

At least 10 Al shabaab militiamen were killed in Busar and Modaale villages on the outskirts of Elwak town in a battle with Transitional Federal Government soldiers. Other reports indicated that TFG forces were closing in on the port town of Burgabo in Badhadhe district which is 140 kilometers to the south of Kismayo.

Yesterday, Rwanda and South Africa joined Tanzania in supporting the government's Linda Nchi offensive. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and president Jacob Zuma affirmed their support as reports indicated that the US air force has been providing Kenya with surveillance information collected by its drones from a civilian airport in southern Ethiopia.

A Reuters report quoting the Washington Post indicated that a fleet of unarmed Reaper drones flying from Arba Minch which is 480 km south of Addis Ababa have been used for surveillance and collect intelligence in Somalia and Yemen. Reapers, known as 'hunter killer' drones are capable of carrying missiles and satellite-guided bombs.

With Agencies

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