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Kenya courts neigbours to oust al-Shabaab

Tigrai Online
Oct. 29 2011

Kenyan Army - Tigrai Online

After a surprise decision by Kenya to go after the al -Shabaab militia deep into Somalia, the government has embarked on a diplomatic charm offensive to seek support from the region.

Sources within Kenyan government say the move, which saw its Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula and Defence Minister Yusuf Haji visit Somalia and Ethiopia, was aimed at rallying the countries in the region behind Kenya.

The sources added that Kenya was mainly interested in Ethiopia and the African Union’s support in the war against the militant group. Signs that Ethiopia is in agreement with Kenya came last Wednesday when Mr Wetangula travelled to Addis Ababa and delivered a message to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi from Kenya President Mwai Kibaki.

Ethiopia ally

Mr Wetangula, however, told The East African, Saturday Monitor’s sister paper that what is important is that Ethiopia understands and appreciates what Kenya is doing because Ethiopia too has been a victim of the al-Shabaab. “They only need to understand whether the operation will be done expeditiously, which I believe it will,” said Mr Wetangula.

Assistant minster for Internal Affairs Orwa Ojode said countries in the region are supporting Kenya, adding that Ethiopia may participate in the mission if requested. However, Mr Ojode maintained that Kenya has not sought the assistance of Ethiopia.

“Al-Shabaab is affecting the economy of the entire region but we have not reached out to Ethiopia because Kenya is capable of handling the situation. This is not a war; we are just flushing out those who are hurting our economy,” he said.

Saturday Monitor, More