Source: Daily Nation Kenya
Kenyan troops fighting the Al-Shabaab in Somalia may pull out in eight months, the Department of Defence announced on Saturday.
This is after the Kenya Defence Forces joined African Union troops in the war against the terrorist group, a joint military effort scheduled to end on October 31.
However, Kenyan forces may continue operating in Somalia beyond October if a peaceful situation in the lawless country will not have been realised.
“Since we were integrated into the Amisom (African Union Mission in Somalia), we are going to operate within the Amisom mandate which expires on October 31 this year.
As long as it takes
“We expect to be there for as long as that mandate is running. The mandate is peace enforcement,” said spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna.
KDF entered Somalia in October last year to fight the militia linked to the global Al-Qaeda terror network.
Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti have 13,000 troops fighting the Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu.
The United Nations Security Council resolution that allowed KDF’s integration into Amisom voted to increase the number of troops to 17,731.
Senior military and political leaders are scheduled to meet in Addis Ababa this week to determine the number of personnel to be deployed by the contributing countries.
“The meeting will also discuss the command structure of an expanded military strength and other logistics,” said Foreign Affairs official Lindsey Kiptenes.
They were speaking to journalists on Saturday during the weekly briefing on Operation Linda Nchi, KDF’s involvement in Somalia.
Said Col Oguna: “From October 31 onwards, our presence (in Somalia) will depend on the assessment of what will be prevailing on the ground at the time by African Union Peace and Security Council. They may determine to extend the period or otherwise.”
And, in the event enforcement ends as scheduled, he added, it would be followed by peace keeping, according to UN regulations.
“Thus the possibility of our troops remaining is quite high,” said Col Oguna.
Col Oguna said KDF carried out air strikes in Hulugho on Wednesday last week in which 11 Al-Shabaab technical vehicles were destroyed.
By Fred Mukinda