KISMAYO, Somalia – A top Kenya defense force [KDF] Commander-in-Chief on Thursday held a closed door meeting with a section of the Somali National Army [SNA] management serving in the unstable Gedo region just months after reported differences between the two security teams.
Earlier this year, SNA troops accused the KDF team of supporting Jubaland forces, leading to an altercation in the town of Balad-Hawo on the common border between Kenya and Somalia. Hundreds of residents were displaced during clashes.
But African Union Sector II Commander Brig Paul Njema held a meeting with the SNA team and local officials in the town of Burahache in Gedo, where close cooperation was discussed by the security teams. Njema was promoted to the position in January.
He acknowledged the continued partnership to promote peace and security in the region and urged the team not to get tired to ensure that the area achieves lasting stability, which is the key to development. He insisted that the teams focus on downplaying the Al-Shabaab militants.
“AMISOM is currently focused on the Somali transition plan, which will soon see all security responsibilities transferred to you. We are committed to mentoring and assuring you that we will continue to work together to clear the remaining elements of Al Shabaab, ” he said.
Key leader involvement from AMISOM has been instrumental in the fight against Al Shabaab in Somalia. The KDF team, which staffs sectors II and VI of AMISOM, first joined the African Union mission in 2012, just one year into Operation Linda Nchi, which saw the team capture the port city of Kismayo.
There are close to 3,500 KDF soldiers and women in Somalia, and the team is expected to retire in 2021 following the planned implementation of the Somali Transitional Plan. The troops have managed to bring order and stability to Jubaland, one of the Somali states fighting the Al-Shabaab uprising.
His journey comes amid simmering tensions between the KDF and SNA forces over control of the Gedo region. The KDF team has used Jubaland as a buffer zone in the fight against Al-Shabaab, an idea that has often been criticized by the federal government in Somalia.
There have also been concerns that SNA soldiers working with Somalia’s spy agency NISA have shared intelligence briefs with Al-Shabaab about the movement of KDF troops. FGS denied the allegations, calling them “false and misleading”.
Elsewhere, KDF Soldiers Serving in Sector VI – Kismayu-under the African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] has today handed out sporting goods in support of football in the city last week. The handover session was chaired by Sector Commander Brigadier Juma Shee Mwinyikai at Kismayu Airport as part of AMISOM’s ongoing civil-military cooperation.
While receiving the items containing football jerseys, shorts and balls, Jubaland Sports Minister Osman Hussein Haji, accompanied by other key sports officials, acknowledged the gesture as a boost to sports in Jubaland.
“We are grateful for the close working relationship we have with the AMISOM KDF soldiers in civil-military cooperation. The topics will help our youth improve their talents,” he said.