President Uhuru asks West to back war on terror

Wednesday August 6 2014

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the interview with CNN in Washington, DC. PHOTO | FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the interview with CNN in Washington, DC. PHOTO | FILE 

By B M J MURIITHI
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By MUCHEMI WACHIRA
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The international community is not doing enough to support  Kenya’s effort in the fight against terrorism, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.

In an interview with CNN in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Mr Kenyatta said terrorism was not country-specific but a global problem.

“The world needs to recognise the fact that this is a global threat which requires to be countered by a global partnership in order to defeat and secure, not just Kenya, but the world,” he told Mr Richard Quest, the host of CNN’s popular show "Quest Means Business" which airs once a week. “We recognise that security is key in ensuring long-term stability and investment,” said Mr Kenyatta.

The interview was aired two days ahead of the 16th anniversary of the August 7, 1998, US embassy bombing in Nairobi during which more than 250 people were killed and over 5,000 others injured when terrorists rammed explosive-laden vehicles in the US embassy at the junction of Moi and Haile Sellasie avenues.

The attack was carried out simultaneously with a similar one against the US embassy in Dar es Salaam. A US court recently ruled that embassy staff who were injured and relatives of employees who died will be compensated.

SUPPORT MISSION IN SOMALIA

President Kenyatta noted that when the US was attacked by terrorists in September 2001, the whole world rallied behind the country. “This is what we would like to see in East Africa.”

Asked whether Kenya felt “a bit alone” in the war on terror, the President said Kenyan forces were in Somalia together with troops from other nations but “we would like to see the world rally behind us and fully support our mission in Somalia so that our forces can expand their operations and reduce the area of Al-Shabaab’s operation”.

He said the travel advisories issued by some Western countries against Kenya were not only hurting the country but the whole world.

“They don’t help in defeating these terrorists. If anything, they encourage and strengthen them.”

Earlier in the year, the United States and the United Kingdom, issued several travel advisories warning their citizens against travelling to Kenya after a series of grenade attacks in Nairobi and parts of the Coast. The advisories hurt Kenya’s tourist arrivals.

“We feel that the world is not doing enough to support us,” said Mr Kenyatta. And in Nairobi, Kenyans who were injured and those whose relatives were killed in the 1998 bombing said they would move to court after they were left out the recent compensation which was restricted to embassy staff and US citizens.

The Sh650 billion compensation was awarded by the US District Courts in Colombia in a ruling stating that only a section of the victims and their families would be paid for the damages they suffered during the attack.

Workers of a firm that was engaged in construction work at the embassy will also be compensated.

“We are waiting to hear from the government so that we can know its stand concerning our case before we decide what legal steps to take,” the chairman of Bomb Blast 1998 lobby group, Mr George Ngigi, told the Nation in a telephone interview.

COMMEMORATE

The group expects the government to send a representative when they gather at the Bomb Blast Memorial Park in Nairobi to commemorate 16 years since the attack, the worst in Kenya.

“We have been sending several communications to the government and it is only recently we were told to wait after a decision is made on the way forward in our case by the legal department at the Office of the President,” Mr Ngigi said.

He said that through their lawyers, they would decide whether to sue Kenya or the US.

Members of the lobby group had engaged lawyers from the US in 2000 who then filed a case in a US court. However, it was not clear how far the case had progressed.