Mogadishu plots to eject Kenya Defence Forces out of Somalia
Saturday, July 06, 2013
Somalia has taken the first official step to remove Kenyan troops from Kismayu by asking the African Union to deploy a “multi-national force” there.
Officials in Mogadishu also demanded an urgent inquiry into recent clashes and the naming of non-Kenyan Amisom political officers for southern regions.
The requests were part of a strongly worded protest letter by Somalia’s Foreign minister to the AU that The Standard on Saturday has obtained. The letter, which accuses a Kenyan commander of “incompetence” and “poor judgement”, escalates a fresh diplomatic row between Somalia and Kenya.
Somalia’s government is, however, now allaying fears over the explosive letter, with a senior advisor and spokesman to the presidency saying: “Somalia has no complaints whatsoever against Kenya.” Abdirahman Omar Osman said: “Kenya and Somalia are working towards the same goal. We are very grateful for Kenyan’s role in AMISOM.”
This is the first time Mogadishu has gone beyond rhetoric against KDF troops, who it accuses of taking sides in recent conflicts in Kismayu.
KDF spokesman Cyrus Oguna referred The Standard on Saturday to the spokesman of AU peacekeepers in Mogadishu.
Contacted on telephone, AMISOM spokesman Col Ali Houmed said: “It is a political issue. Somalia has taken its complaints to the AU.”
He added that because of the significance of the issue, the AU’s Special Representative to Somalia, Mr Mohamed Salah Anadif, this week called on Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud and Prime Minister Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon.
“Kenya and Somalia share a lot and I don’t think they will fail to solve any problem,” Col Houmed said.
According an AMISOM statement, the two sides discussed ways of jointly alleviating the humanitarian suffering of the local population in Kismayu, alongside efforts by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia.Recent fighting
“AMISOM continues to treat casualties from all sides injured during the recent fighting witnessed in parts of the port city,” said Anadif.
The three-page letter, whose subject line was “Extremely Urgent: Kismayo conflict,” was sent by Somalia’s Foreign Minister, Fawzia Yusuf H. Adam, who is also a deputy prime minister, to Amb. Ramtane Lamamra, the AU commissioner for peace and security, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In it, Mogadishu describes the Kenyan army commander in Somalia, Brig Gen Anthony Ngere, as “incompetent” and accuses him of “poor judgment”. Somalia says Ngere “discouraged initiatives by the Ministry of Defence” to form a command and control for government forces in the Jubba region. Ngere’s order for the arrest of Abbas Ibrahim Gurey, a Somali national army commander, is cited as “a blunt abuse of power”. Gurey was suspected of going to Kismayu was to mobilise clan militiamen against the Jubaland administration led by Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Ahmed Madobe).
Kenya’s Foreign ministry officials didn’t return calls seeking comment. The Somali letter was dated June 30, the same day Deputy Minister for Information Abdishakur Ali Mire read a statement calling for neutral forces in Kismayu. At the time, many treated that statement as just part of Mogadishu’s usual outbursts against Kenya. In May, Somalia’s President complained to President Uhuru Kenyatta and other regional leaders about how Kenyan troops in Kismayu had “mistreated” a government committee sent to the city.