Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the country’s soldiers will continue their mission in Somalia until peace and stability in the Horn of Africa nation is realized.
Kenyatta vowed he will not withdraw Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers from Somalia before peace and stability is restored.
“We went to Somalia in 2011. We shall continue our presence in the country until the restoration of full security in Somalia,” he said during the 7th annual KDF Day in Nakuru County where he also laid a wreath at the monument of fallen heroes.
“And so we will continue to maintain our presence in Somalia under AMISOM until our security objectives and those of the international community are achieved; including the restoration of peace and stability in Somalia,” he added.
KDF Day is marked to commemorate Kenya’s fallen heroes and heroines who died while defending and protecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity, peace and freedom of the country.
Kenyatta said Kenyans are proud and appreciative of the proactive role played by KDF in security operations and peace initiatives in the region especially in the fight against terrorism, a challenge that continues to create fear and despondency among populations.
“Kenyans are proud of their soldiers and the professional, patriotic and disciplined manner they have handled themselves,” he said.
Islamist militant group al-Shabab is fighting to overthrow the internationally backed Somali government but has also carried out attacks in neighboring Kenya, which has deployed troops as part of Amisom.
Kenyatta hailed efforts of the force in safekeeping missions, stating that Kenya cannot let down its guard until the complex transnational terror networks operating in the Horn of Africa region are completely removed.
The president said there is need to ensure that Kenyan borders remain secure, a role the KDF has prayed with pride, courage and determination.
He said the decision to let KDF troops remain in Somalia was due to the transnational threats to both national and international security.
“Our region continues to experience major security challenges emanating from terror networks that emerge and have thrived by taking advantage of the ungoverned spaces on the Horn of Africa,” he added.
These networks, he said, continue to target our people in order to create fear and affect our everyday life.
The president said Kenya’s continued contribution of troops for peace missions was indicative of the government’s commitment to peace and security in the region and beyond.
Kenyatta called on soldiers to rededicate themselves to protect the sanctity of human life, remain united and maintain their high degree of integrity and accountability.
He also encouraged KDF to continue cooperating with other agencies in times of disasters and emergencies.
Deployed in 2011 to shore up the Somali government in its battle with Islamist militias, KDF,which is under AMISOM, operates under a Security Council mandate.