ICG report on Kenya gets mixed feelings

By Collins Wanzala in Nairobi

Kenyan troops patrol the Somali badlands after invading the country last year in search of Al-Shabaab militants.

The decision by the Kenyan Government to send its troops to fight Al-Shabaab militia in Somalia has received a mixed reactions from Kenyans interviewed in the capital City Nairobi, after the International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a negative report on the matter recently.

Kenyan forces that invaded Somali, a nation that has not seen peace for over 21 years, are conducting its operations in the Southern part of the country since October last year and have slowed down their operations to capture the strategic port town of Kismayu in an attempt to avoid being viewed negatively by the Somalis.

Recently, the country’s Defense Minister Yusuf Haji who is a Kenyan of Somali origin said that the capture of Kismayu city needed not to be done by Kenyan forces alone as this could make Kenya look like the enemy to Somalis, considering the fact that the two countries are immediate neighbors. The Minister said that what Kenya was interested in was to secure her borders from being easily accessed by the Al-Shabaab militants as they had attacked Kenya’s tourism industry which happens to be the country’s second major foreign currency earner after agriculture.

Imbai Indakalu, a commentator on conflicts in Kenya told The London Evening Post that sending Kenyan soldiers to fight in a guerrilla war waged by Al-Shabaab was wrong as Al-Shabaab is not an official Government army. He said it only needed Kenya to send its police officers who are used to fighting criminals in the country. But Lillian Shimaka, a Public Relations Officer with a company in Nairobi said: “Sending our troops to fight Al-Shabaab was good as our soldiers are doing nothing when terrorists cross over and make attacks on the Kenya soil. The principal mission of any Army in a nation in the world is to protect her people against aggression from inside or outside her borders.”

Since Kenya attained Independence in 1963, the country has never fought with any of her neighbors but during the regime of dictator Amin Dada of Uganda, the founding President of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta nearly ordered Kenyan troops to cross over to Uganda and fight with Uganda after Amin said that the border between Kenya and Uganda was in Naivasha, a town in the Rift Valley Province and only 100 Kilometres away from the City of Nairobi. The official border between the two countries is in Busia and Malaba towns which are about 300 kilometres away from Naivasha town. The Ugandan dictator who was overthrown by Ugandan exiles with the assistance of the Tanzania Peoples Defence Forces, developed cold feet after Kenyatta warned him of dire consequence should he attempt to send Ugandan troops to Kenya, according to Stafford Ondego a resident of Nairobi.

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