Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto was on Monday categorical that Kenya would not withdraw its troops from Somalia, until the war against the Al-Shabaab militia is won.
Speaking after meeting Kenya's top security chiefs at his office, Ruto dismissed those calling for an early exit, saying such a move will amount to an act of cowardice.
While underscoring the need for the Judiciary and all government agencies to play their role in the fight against terrorism, Ruto stressed the need for every Kenyan to be involved in the initiative, saying that this is the only way to overcome such attacks.
"We will not relent and we will not withdraw from Somalia. We will not be cowed or intimidated until Somalia has a free and stable government free from terror. But the singular fact that cannot be denied is that our troops have greatly destabilised Al Shabaab operations and created relative peace and security in that country," he said.
The Deputy President further urged Kenyans not to panic since security agencies have thwarted many attempts against Al Shabaab, and this is why they are focusing on killing innocent Kenyans.
"To recall our troops would provide a safe haven for the criminals to recruit and arm terrorists in Somalia who will eventually cause an even greater risk to Kenya and the region. Some of the suspects involved in these acts are Kenyans initially recruited into Al Shabaab cells in Somalia for training and radicalisation who have now returned to perpetrate terrorist activities in the country," he said.
He also explained that those who support terrorists either financially or in any other way will also be dealt with ruthlessly.
"The government is also aware of the existence of a local network of sympathisers and facilitators residing among the general population. Just like the terrorists, these will also face consequences. The government will not allow terrorists, their facilitators or collaborators to dictate or blackmail us into changing our local or foreign policy," he said.
He revealed that the Executive is in close talks with the Judiciary in a bid to clamp down on terror cells in the country.
"The President himself has engaged the Chief Justice on matters to do with terrorist activities in this country because we believe that every Arm of Government must make its contribution in making sure that we secure the country," he stated.
"And this country is going to be safe for our children, our businessmen and the 40 million Kenyans that we have in the country. The security situation is one that is under control; we have incidents that have slipped through our network, but those too will be brought under control."
He reiterated the need for all Kenyans to join hands and be vigilant as they report suspicious characters or anything unusual to prevent any recurrence.
"That is why we are asking the public to participate, to make it their business and report these incidents to our security agencies and we will be working together using a comprehensive program that will secure our country," he said.
"If you have suspicious pieces of luggage around you, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are appropriately handled. That is what goes on everywhere in the world and we are living together with others and it is only proper that Kenyans realise that reality and deal with it."
He stressed that security agencies will pursue, apprehend and bring the perpetrators to account.
"For this reason, we call on the Judiciary to be a strong partner in the war against terror. We call on all players in the Justice, Law and Order Sector to stand with Kenyans. The Constitution provides a robust framework of civil liberties, which all Kenyans are meant to enjoy. The liberties must work for Kenyans, not against Kenyans," he stated.
He pointed out that records indicate that many terror suspects have absconded bail and put themselves beyond the reach of law enforcement. Among them is Fuad Abubakar Maswab, who is believed to have fled to Somalia whilst out on a Sh10 million bond.
He explained that Jamal Mohamed Awadh and Suleiman Mohammed Sayyed were similarly out on bond but both died on Saturday while executing a bomb attack in Mombasa.
"Those who have fled to Somalia intend to continue their terror activities. While they are abroad, the cases against them cannot proceed, seriously impairing the quest for justice and law enforcement. Likewise, at least 22 persons accused of terrorism are known to be out on bond operating freely among the innocent and peaceful citizens," Ruto stated.
He spoke as the death toll following Sunday evening's twin blasts on the Thika Superhighway rose to three, after one more victim succumbed to injuries.
In Mombasa, 104 suspects have been arrested in connection with the weekend Mombasa twin blasts.
Police are searching for a suspect who is believed to be of Arab origin who abandoned an Improvised Explosive Device near Reef Hotel in Nyali after he failed to access the establishment from the exit point.