Kenya plans to complete its mission to stabilize neighboring Somalia in order to help create a foundation for economic prosperity on the African continent, said Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.
“We are taking a stand for peace and stability in our region,” Kibaki said in a speech today in Nairobi. “This is the only way that we can develop our continent and implement infrastructure projects that are cross-border in nature.”
African nations are increasing spending on roads, ports and railways that have deteriorated because of a lack of investment, impeding faster economic growth on the continent. Somalia hasn’t a functioning government since 1991, when the former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was removed from office, and the ensuing civil war destroyed most of the country’s social and economic infrastructure.
Kenyan forces began an incursion into Somalia on Oct. 16 to combat al-Shabaab militants it accuses of kidnapping tourists and aid workers in Kenya. The al-Qaeda-linked group, which denied the allegations, has been fighting to remove Somalia’s United Nations-backed interim government for the past four years and controls most of southern and central Somalia.
“A solution to the long-standing instability in Somalia is good for the Horn of Africa and indeed the entire continent,” Kibaki said.
Separately, the Defense Ministry denied a report by Press TV, Iran’s state-run television channel, that 15 Kenyan soldiers were killed in the conflict in Somalia. The broadcaster said the troops were shot dead by three Somali soldiers near the southern town of Tabataa.
The article, along with reports about the Kenyan airstrikes killing and displacing people in Somalia is “full of deceit” and doesn’t reflect the objectives of Kenya’s army, Major Emmanuel Chirchir said in an e-mailed statement today from Nairobi.
To contact the reporter on this story: Johnstone Ole Turana in Nairobi at firstname.lastname@example.org.