The international community has been asked to assist in blockading the al Shabaab-controlled Kismayu port and starve the militia group of its financial muscle as the onslaught on its strongholds in the southern part of Somalia continues.
The request is contained in a joint communique issued by Prime Minister Raila Odinga after a meeting with his Somalia counterpart Abdiweli Mohammed Ali as troops bombarded the terror group’s stronghold in Somalia. “We expect that the international community provides necessary logistical and financial support for the blockade of the port of Kismayu until Al Shabaab is removed.
We expect ships’ support to blockade Kismayu so that Al Shabaab don’t have sources to finance their heinous mission. We are prepared for any eventuality even if there are fighters coming from wherever. We have not gone into Somalia for a tea party,” Raila said.The two said they will also request the International Criminal Court to begin immediate investigations into crimes against humanity committed by individuals of the al Shabaab militia.
Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka read the joint communiqué that stated that Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) “will seek ICC assistance in beginning immediate probe into crimes against humanity committed by members of Al Shabaab movement with the aim of seeking indictment as soon as possible.”
They said that a contingent of African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom) troops from Djibouti, Uganda and Burundi were expected to take over areas liberated by the Kenyan soldiers and from the TFG. The troops would under the guidance of the TFG help in establishing local administrative structures.
Those who attended the meeting included the Somali Defence minister Hussein Arab Isse, Industry and Commerce Abdiwahab Ugas Hussein, Interior and National Security minister Abdisamad Moalin Mohamad and the TFG commander Gen Abdulkair Dini. The Kenyan delegation included minister for Defence Yusuf Haji, Onyonka, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Julius Karangi, NSIS director Micheal Gichangi and Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere.
They affirmed their common goal and commitment in getting rid of the al Shabaab. “The Al Shabaab threat constitutes a common enemy between Kenya and Somalia and it must be fought jointly together with the help of the international community. The current operation by TFG forces with pursuit of Kenyan forces are in pursuit of a legitimate agenda and that is targeting Al Shabaab targets,” the communiqué said.
The military operation was launched over two weeks ago when Kenyan troops crossed the border into Somalia in pursuit of the al Shabaab militants. The two governments have now established a joint high level coordinating committee that will hold periodic meetings in Nairobi and Mogadishu.
The two countries will also launch a diplomatic campaign to galvanise support for the operations. The first meeting is scheduled to be held today with select members of the diplomatic corps in Nairobi and will be followed by several visits to several select capitals. The two delegations also agreed that additional Amisom troops be provided to move into the liberated areas in Southern Somalia to help safeguard peace and security and assist in the establishment of local administration under the guidance of TFG.
Raila said the government will not negotiate with al Shabaab but added that the TFG was free to negotiate with all armed opposition groups. The UN Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga said the UN would consider talking to the al Shabaab if they renounced violence. “There have been repeated calls from the Security Council for the group to lay down their arms and join the peace process. If there could be promising signs that the group can renounce violence then the UN Security Council will be more happy and ready to support this,” Mahiga said.
He said the UN hopes that Kenya’s push into southern Somalia will help gain access to famine victims. “We think this in the end will contribute to the sum total of gaining more territory, greater security and therefore more access to the victims of famine and drought, especially in south-central Somalia,” Mahiga said.
Raila dispelled fears that the government intends to hive off part of Somalian for the establishment of the state of Azania. “We have no imperialistic intention of staying in Somalia for more than one day after the mission is accomplished. More Amisom troops will be brought in to take over the liberated areas. You cannot say how long it will take until the enemy is beaten and that is why we are appealing to the international community to help,” Raila said.
The Somalia PM described as “unfortunate” an incident in which three civilians were killed and more than 50 injured when military aircraft struck a camp for displaced persons in southern Somalia on Sunday, according to claims by the aid organisation, Medecins Sans Frontier (Doctors without Borders).
Kanyan military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir said a Kenya Air Force jet hit an al Shabaab camp but denied that there had been any “collateral damage.” Ten al Shabaab militias were killed and 47 wounded. The two primary targets were military bases that al-shabaab uses as a jail and the other used as a weapons storage facility. Airstrikes in the Middle and Lower Juba have been ongoing during the last few days.
Yesterday Kenyan helicopters are reported to have hit Kudhaa Island in Lower Juba which al-Shabaab uses as a military base, according to TFG officials and residents. Chirchir said the attack on the IDP camp which has 7,500 people killed three civilians and 52 women and children were injured. He said the attack was carried out by an al Shabaab driver who drove off a “technical” battle wagon mounted with a ZSU 2-3 anti aircraft gun towards the IDP camp.
The wagon was on fire and laden with explosives and exploded at the camp. “We are reaching out to the MSF personnel on the ground to ascertain this turn of events,” said Chirchir. “If it has taken place then it is an unfortunate incident and we are sorry about that,” Abdiweli said during the press conference. Raila added: “Our troops have not targeted civilians. It would be most unfortunate.”