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The Kenyan Government: A Force for Political Instability in Horn of Africa?

Friday, October 25, 2019

As the Somali State collapsed in 1991 and chaos ensued, the country has suffered enormously the impact has been felt on all levels from the social, economic, political stability and territorial sovereignty. Since then, various governments in Somalia with the help of the international community have been tirelessly trying to rebuild the state together. For the first time in decades, a renaissance of the Somali state is remerging and accoridng to the World Bank the country's vibrant economy has started to see real growth. The Somali diaspora's energy, tenacity and investments are also adding value to the sacrifice and progressive steps taken by Somalia’s citizens and its leaders. 

These encouraging developments have brought with it a sense of confidence and hope for Somalia and its people. However, the political environment and security is still a challenge. Somalia’s political and economic recovery is still fragile and requires sustained stability and support from the international community.

While other international partners and regional governments have been doing their best to contribute to these noble efforts, the Kenyan government has embarked on a series of destabilising efforts inside Somalia. They have led the way in fragmenting Somalia’s politics and its people for short-term political gains.  In the recent regional election of Kismayo’s presidential race, they have actively and politically interfered with the election process, often using their military to take control of Kismayo airport in support of the sitting self- declared president of Kismayo, Ahmed Islam Madobe.

In doing so, they have bypassed the Somalia government’s directive to re-route all in-bound Kismayo flights to Mogadishu airport before landing in Kismayo, which is in direct contravention of international law of aviation and the sacred sovereignty of the Somali state recognised under international law.

The telecommunication market has been the backbone for the Somali economy, flourishing and providing some of the lowest Tariffs in Africa. Under this context, you would think regional African Union members would continue sustaining these progressive steps taken by Somalia.

However, the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) in Somalia have destroyed more than 12  Hormuud telecommunication masts, disconnecting over 100,000 people from their rights to make basic phone calls, communications and receive vital mobile remittances to sustain families and entire communities. The destroyed masts were a product of the investments of Somali-British shareholders who have made it possible for the hardest-to-reach rural communities to connect to the wider world with ease. The attacks by the Kenyan Defence Forces’ are targeted and deliberate. The destruction of vital Somali economic lifelines not only violates international law, basic human rights but the fragile regional peace of East Africa.

This pattern of aggressive behaviour that includes undermining the current Somali government, destroying critical economic infrastructure and humiliating Somali citizens is counter-productive to regional stability. As Kenya is diplomatically seeking a seat at the UN Security Council to represent the voice of the African Union, the international community must question whether the Kenyan government is fit to represent Africa at the UNSC while engaged in destabilising efforts in the Horn of Africa for their political ends.

The Kenyan Defence Forces in Somalia must be held accountable by the international community for their gross misconduct and destruction of the Somali economy. This level of impunity and aggression should not be tolerated and must be made accountable.

In the final analysis, what the KDF destroying is the fragile peace and economy in Somalia, which will render the enormous sacrifice and efforts made by the international community and Somalis in Somalia meaningless.

 Adam Matan: [email protected]

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