Friday, September 28, 2012

Kibaki commends Kenyan forces over Kismayu victory

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) aboard a boat as it approaches the port city of Kismayu in southern Somalia September 28, 2012. President Kibaki has commended the KDF for the al-Shabaab stronghold.

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) aboard a boat as it approaches the port city of Kismayu in southern Somalia September 28, 2012. President Kibaki has commended the KDF for the al-Shabaab stronghold.   COURTSEY/KENYA DEFENCE FORCES

By LUCAS BARASA [email protected]

President Kibaki has commended the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) for capturing Kismayu terming it a defining moment for Somalia and the region.

The seizure of the port city in southern Somalia is a "game changer", the President who is also the Commander in-Chief of Kenya Defence Forces said Friday.

"This is a game changer for the people of Somalia, it is a defining moment. A people long used to being subject of forces of terrorism that sought to engage in a siege mentality of extremism now have a good chance of restoring peace in their country, and engaging in productive economic and social opportunities," President Kibaki said.

The President who has been in New York for the UN General Assembly meeting recalled his words at the meeting: "This is the time to send a clear message to the world, that the people of Somalia have gone through a tumultuous time. Now is the time to encourage them to embrace peace, Kenya stands to be counted as a friend of the Government and people of Somalia."

He said individuals who seek to be spoilers of the peace in Somalia "should be dealt with firmly and decisively".

"The AMISOM forces and the international community mobilised the forces to deal with threats of piracy. This was successful and keeping the peace in Somalia will also be possible," he said.

President Kibaki said Kenya would actively participate in the reconstruction process of Somalia.

Hurdles remain

He was, however, cautious that many hurdles remain.

"There are those who will not relent. There are extremist, terrorist and fundamentalist forces that will seek to destabilise Somalia and the region.

"To them we say, the time for war, civil strife and extremism is over. Join the people of Somalia and the region who want to see and have genuine peace and reconciliation," the President said.

He said after 20 years, Somalia has lost opportunities and that "we have 20 year-olds who have never seen the inside of a classroom, mothers who have never known what maternal health care means and men who have never held a grandchild because their children died of hunger, disease and war."

He appealed to Somalis to embrace peace and reconciliation "because their best years were ahead, and assured them that Kenya would be there to help Somalia retake its place in the family of modern day nations".

The President also appealed to the international community to help in the reconstruction process that would see the return of over 600,000 refugees who are currently residing in refugee camps in Kenya.

He also appealed to the Somalis in the Diaspora to seize the moment and play their rightful role in the new Somalia.

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