Source: The East African
Having initiated the military option to get rid of Al Shabaab, Kenya as the frontline state must now start the process of political settlement in Somalia. The mandate of the weak Transitional Federal Government ends in August and no election plans are in sight.
While military victory is important for Kenya, the hard part will be the post-incursion period in which the TFG will be required to take charge of the liberated areas. The TFG and the African Union Mission in Somalia, Amisom, are already stretched in terms of security personnel and cannot prevent Al Shabaab militants from melting into the population and carrying out revenge attacks.
Kenya having taken the bold step of entering Somalia should now start lobbying other members of the African Union to send troops there once Al Shabaab is defeated militarily. There are only 9,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops in the country, while Somalia needs about 20,000 foreign troops to help maintain peace before the August elections.
Kenya, Ethiopia and other members of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development have the responsibility of helping Somalia initiate political dialogue as per the 2004 Charter, write a new constitution and hold elections.
The TFG and Amisom have already secured 98 per cent of Mogadishu for the first time in four years, but the TFG will not be in a position to control the liberated areas without external help. Kenya should capitalise on the fact that Igad member states have endorsed the Kenyan Somali campaign and should therefore show more willingness to initiate programmes to stabilise Somalia for the first time in 20 years.
Being the country that bears the brunt of instability in Somalia, Kenya should take the initiative to put in place a mechanism for political dialogue. A stable Somalia equals a stable region