The Inter-Governmental Agency on Development (IGAD) has welcomed the joint operation by Kenya Defence Forces and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in pursuit of Al Shabaab in Southern Somalia.
The regional leaders observed the operation provided a unique opportunity that must not be squandered for the region to consolidate gains made and restore stability and security in Somalia.
The IGAD leadership said it understands, appreciates and supports the joint operation, saying Kenya had every right to take the action it took.
In a communiqué released at the end of the 19th Extra Ordinary Inter-Government Authority on development (IGAD) Summit of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the leaders called for regional solidarity and enhanced co-ordination between KDF, AMISOM and TFG forces to defeat Al-Shabaab and restore stability in Somalia.
Stressing the need for IGAD and AU to galvanize International support for the on-going military operation, the leaders called up on Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) of Somalia to expedite the finalization and endorsement of national security and stability processes.
The summit chaired by Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi and attended by Presidents Kibaki, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia noted that Kenya carried the heaviest refugee burden and called on the international community to develop modalities for burden sharing.
The leaders further urged humanitarian aid agencies to relocate to the secure parts of Somalia in order to provide the much needed assistance to the drought stricken communities in a more effective manner to stem the influx into the neighbouring countries.
IGAD also supported Kenya’s military action against Al-Shabaab saying the country had every right to defend her territorial integrity against the militants and other insurgents.
The leaders also called on the United Nations Security Council to revise its resolution 2020 extending for 12 months authorization for countries cooperating with the TFG to use necessary means to combat piracy and armed robbery.
The leaders further paid tribute to TFG forces, AMISOM and Troops Contributing countries (TCC) for their continued sacrifices in pursuit of peace security in Somalia and the horn of Africa.
The Heads of State and Government noted that the military operation had diminished the Al-Shabaab threats and subsequent consolidation of security in Mogadishu and its environs.
Addressing the Summit, President Kibaki urged the IGAD Heads of State and Government to develop practical strategies that will enhance the capabilities of the TFG security forces and AMISOM to re-establish law and order in Mogadishu and other areas that have been secured especially in South-Central Somalia.
President Kibaki encouraged the leadership of the Transitional Federal Government (TFD) of Somalia to seize the historic opportunity occasioned by the Joint Operation with Kenya and other partners to unite all political forces and the people of Somalia to move the political process forward.
The joint efforts, the Head of State said, will lay a strong basis to address the short, medium and long-term military and political road maps for the restoration of stability and security in Somalia.
"The region expects the TFG to pronounce its unequivocal support and commitment to these efforts of IGAD to re-establish peace and security in Somalia," he said.
President Kibaki emphasised the importance of closer cooperation and coordination between AMISOM, TFG, and other regional forces that are keen to support the restoration of peace and stability in Somalia.
"This Summit should build on the Nairobi Tripartite Meeting of 16th November, 2011 between Kenya, Uganda and the TFG which I convened at the request of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda."
President Kibaki restated Kenya’s decision to pursue Al-Shabaab militants inside Somalia is aimed at stopping violations on the country’s national interests, secure its border and prevent further incursions.
He said Kenya’s military action to protect national security, sovereignty, and economy was necessitated by the systematic, provocative and intolerable cross border attacks by Al Shabaab.
The President commended Uganda and Burundi for the sacrifices the two countries continued to make in pursuit of peace and security in Somalia, an effort that has resulted in the consolidation of security in Mogadishu.
The Head of State reiterated his call to the international community, particularly the UN Security Council to provide the necessary support for consolidating peace and security in Somalia.
During the Summit, South Sudan was admitted as the newest full member of IGAD community.
In attendance were representatives of Uganda, Sudan, Southern Sudan and IGAD Executive Secretary Eng. Mahboub Maalim.
Others were Cabinet ministers Moses Wetangula, Yusuf Haji and Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi among others.