The Kenyan, Somali and Ugandan presidents on Wednesday held a closed-door meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi aimed at emphasizing the need for joint cooperation in order to successfully defeat the Islamic militant group, Al Shabaab, and others that continue to threaten peace and stability in the Horn of Africa and internationally.
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Sheikh Sharrif Ahmed of the Transitional Federal Government, TFG, of Somalia expressed confidence that the joint Kenya Somalia operation presents the region with an historic opportunity to restore stability and security in Somalia.
In a statement, the leaders “expressed confidence that the joint Kenya-Somali operation presents the region with a historic opportunity to restore stability and security in Somalia”.
Kenyan forces entered Somalia in October after a series of kidnappings, which Kenyan authorities blamed on al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States.
Somali militants are responsible for a number of bomb attacks in Somalia and Kenyan and are accused of recruiting child soldiers, kidnapping foreign nationals and murdering civilians.
The al-Shabab group has also severely hampered the ability of aid workers to provide relief to tens of thousands of Somalis suffering from a drought-related famine.
Kenyan forces are ultimately seeking to take the Somali port city of Kismayo, described by the United Nations as a key stronghold and source of cash for al-Shabab, but after several weeks, the Kenyan military is yet to launch an all-out assault of the militant group.
The incursion has been heavily criticized by the Western media, skeptical of an African nation’s ability to take on the 20,000 strong al-Shabab force.
The leaders once again, reaffirmed previous commitments endorsed by the 41st Extra-Ordinary IGAD Council of Ministers on October 21, 2011, to jointly pursue the objectives of defeating Al Shabaab and other militant groups to its logical conclusion.