I thank His Excellency Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti for hosting this important Summit of AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries’ Summit.
I also express my gratitude to Dr. Nkosozana Zuma, the African Union Commission Chairperson for joining us in this meeting to reflect on the successes of AMISOM, the challenges that militate against the full attainment of our collective strategic objective in Somalia, namely the restoration of sustainable security, peoples’ livelihoods and political stability.
It is also my earnest hope that at the end of this Summit we will have elaborated a way forward that takes us towards our desired end state.
Six weeks ago, the Kenyan contingent of AMISOM at El Adde camp, in Gedo region, came under a deadly terrorist attack.
The attack was unprecedented in scale and impact, demonstrating a changing pattern of planning and execution by the Al Shabaab and their allies, operating in the territory of Somalia.
As in the attack on the Burundi and Uganda contingents, these attacks are a clear manifestation of the evolving nature of the threat posed by Al-Shabaab, upon our collective resolve to assist Somalia.
It is a test on our commitment to fight terrorism. It is a test on our beliefs in the democratic ideas of tolerance and diversity. It is a test on all humanity that believes in the sanctity of human life.
This is why I have stated Kenya’s resolve repeatedly. We have chosen a path of freedom, embracing differences because these enrich our humanity. I salute all AMISOM personnel who continue to demonstrate unwavering commitment in the effort to neutralize Al-Shabaab.
I also pay tribute to the Troop and Police Contributing Countries who continue to stay the course in Somalia in order to ensure that peace and stability is restored. Thanks to our collective sacrifices, Somalia is now safer than it has ever been in the last 25 years.
Our mission has registered immense political and security successes. We have considerably degraded the capability of Al-Shabaab and liberated large areas previously held by the group.
We have blocked revenue flows to the Al-Shabaab, and reduced their capacity to finance their heinous agenda considerably. The liberation of these areas has altered the security landscape and offers a rare opportunity for the Government of Somalia to initiate the process of state building, and create public safety and security for its people.
As we all celebrate these gains, we must not allow complacency to set in. As we are all aware Al-Shabaab remains a poignant security threat to Somalia, the region and the international community.
Exploiting clan dynamics and employing asymmetrical tactics, Al-Shabaab has the capacity to cause economic damage, create insecurity, fear and disruption of political processes in the whole of Somalia, and beyond.
Our success in Somalia is hard-won and we continue to pay for it in blood and treasure. We must therefore jealously guard against attempts to roll back our successes and act decisively in addressing any challenges that may impede AMISOM from delivering its mandate.
In this regard, allow me to share with you a set of core challenges identified in our own internal review of AMISOM as follows:
Firstly, the gap between AMISOM’s pursuit of its strategic objective and adherence to the Concept of Operations remains worryingly wide. In order to execute its mandate effectively, AMISOM’s Concept of Operations envisages that the operational relationship between the Somali National Army, Police and AMISOM should be solidified.
Unfortunately, these security apparatus lack institutional, logistical and operational capabilities and are unable to fully integrate into AMISOM’s operations. If liberated areas are not adequately covered by Somali security apparatus, AMISOM forces are forced to maintain fixed posture and therefore restrict their ability to liberate more areas consequently allowing Al-Shabaab to control swathes of ungoverned spaces.
Related to this is the inability of AMISOM forces to deploy in all areas in certain sectors.
Of particular concern to us in Kenya is the curious absence of AMISOM in the Gedo region. This region has now become a safe haven for Al-Shabaab and a launching pad for attacks against our troops and people along our common border with Somalia. It has become a critical soft belly for Kenya.
In order to enhance the efficiency of AMISOM, there is an urgent need to immediately deploy troops in all designated areas. As a matter of urgency, AMISOM must quickly deploy troops in Gedo region in Sector.
This may be effected through a re-organization of the current posture or a troops surge to enable the establishment of a robust, effective presence, that guarantees sustenance of AMISOM’s current success on the ground, and further liberation of areas under the terrorists.
The second challenge compounding AMISOM’s problems arise from the Joint AU-UN benchmarking exercise conducted on April 14-25, 2015, which recommended a drawdown of military forces and replacement with Police Formed Units.
While we cannot over-emphasize the importance of policing functions in the attainment of AMISOM’s broad mandate, we do not think that the way to achieve this imperative is through a drawdown. In fact our own internal review points to the need for a surge of both military and police units within the shortest time possible, preferably before the 2016 election in Somalia.
In this regard, we propose that this meeting decides that the implementation of the recommendations of the Joint AU-UN Benchmarking exercise be suspended with immediate effect and recommends that a comprehensive review of the Concept of Operations is conducted forthwith.
Thirdly, AMISOM lacks critical components necessary to achieve the strategic objective of stabilizing Somalia.
From the beginning of this mission, Kenya has argued consistently for the need for force multipliers.
To enhance mission success, AMISOM requires robust land, air and maritime capabilities and assets. However, AMISOM is severely incapacitated in both air and maritime components and lacks the requisite force multipliers to effectively deliver on its mandate. Twelve military helicopters authorized by the UN Security Council in 2012 have not been deployed.
Denying a mission like AMISOM these capabilities is not only unacceptable, but untenable.
Fourthly, AMISOM continues to face financial challenges which threaten the effectiveness of the mission. AMISOM is still resourced through multiple funding models which do not guarantee predictable, adequate and sustainable funding that is necessary for the operations in Somalia.
The recent decision by the European Union to effect a 20% reduction of funding to AMISOM is just a manifestation of this difficulty.
To realize AMISOM’s strategic objectives, we must narrow the gap between the operational needs and available resources. This is because the success of any mission is greatly determined by the balance between expected mandate outcome and resource allocation. We cannot accept that the world relegates African missions to the back.
As our recent history will remind us, poorly resourced operations are less likely to achieve mission objectives. For example, the objective of strengthening AMISOM in 2012 was to support the Federal Government of Somalia to recover the entire territory by 2015, in time for the 2016 general elections that would be based on universal Suffrage. The recent decision by Somalia to undertake an election through a clan-based model, is a clear demonstration that this objective has not been achieved.
We must ensure that the lesson learnt informs our deliberations today. This is the time to strengthen AMISOM through a surge in troops and resources, and not weaken it.
Lastly, but of equal magnitude, is the temptation of our international partners to forget that the African Union is in Somalia on behalf of the United Nations.
Unfortunately, international solidarity has not lived up to its obligation.
Whereas the continent is footing the bill of stabilizing Somalia by blood and flesh, it is disheartening that the international community is even contemplating to reduce support to AMISOM. We must remind the world that, the primary mandate of promotion of international peace and security all over the world including Somalia still remains with the United Nations, and in particular the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
I call on this meeting to totally reject any suggestion that insinuates that the African Union should pay for AMISOM. At the minimum, the continent should demand that AMISOM’s funding be drawn from the UN assessed Contributions.
Furthermore, we must begin the conversation that will take us to the corridors of the United Nations regarding the future of AMISOM especially post-August 2016. It is clear that that interaction must focus attention on whether the mandate of AMISOM as currently provided can deal with the today’s threat dynamics. Our assessment in Kenya suggests not.
While we have attained the threshold as provided for in the UNSC resolution that established AMISOM, to degrade the Al- Shabaab, what is needed now is to completely destroy and annihilate the terrorist threat that is upon us. This requires recalibrating the mandate of AMISOM accordingly. The mandate of such future AMISOM must becommensurate with the level of the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups.
I have explained the challenges facing AMISOM today as Kenya sees it and proposed ways of addressing each one of them in order to reverse the current situation. I am optimistic that we shall consider these proposals and come up with a way forward. Our outcomes today should decisively strengthen, rather than weaken, AMISOM and emboldens all of us to do even more to sustain a secure Somalia.
In conclusion, let me reiterate my Government’s unwavering support and commitment to the realization of a stable and peaceful Somalia. This is a calling from which we cannot walk away. Failure is not an option. We have all made enormous sacrifices towards this course. We are determined that those sacrifices will not be in vain. Kenya makes its contribution in Somalia, as elsewhere, guided by our commitment to the rule of law and professional efficacy.
Kenyan troops have and continue to serve with distinction across the world, including in Somalia. These shared values should guide us to the next level when we ride our region of the heinous agenda of terrorism and other transnational crimes.
STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE SUMMIT OF AMISOM POLICE/TROOPS CONTRIBUTING COUNTRIES, DJIBOUTI, 28TH FEBRUARY 2016