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EU Parliament recommends antiterrorism training mission in Kenya

Friday May 1 2015

Members of the EU Parliament take part in a voting session on April 29, 2015 in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. Europe’s leaders have offered Africa up to 3.6 billion euros ($3.8 billion) at a summit in Malta in exchange for help in tackling the migration crisis rocking Europe.  AFP PHOTO | FREDERICK FLORIN

Members of the EU Parliament take part in a voting session in Strasbourg, eastern France, on April 29, 2015. Europe’s leaders have offered Africa up to 3.6 billion euros ($3.8 billion) at a summit in Malta in exchange for help in tackling the migration crisis rocking Europe. AFP PHOTO | FREDERICK FLORIN 

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Kenya’s fight against terrorism received a boost on Thursday after the European Parliament recommended training and equipment support to Kenyan security agencies.

In a resolution passed by 578 votes to 31, the parliament recommended that the European Union should launch a military training mission in Kenya and supply equipment to the Kenyan army and police to tame the spread of the Somalia-based terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

“MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] advocate setting up an EU (European Union) military training mission in Kenya and supplying Kenya’s military and police forces with modern equipment and training to fight terrorism and prevent the expansion of Al-Shabaab,” a statement from the parliament said on Thursday evening.

The move is a response to the April 2 attack at the Garissa University College, in which 148 people, among them 142 students, were killed by gunmen allied to Al-Shabaab.

‘PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS’

And while the European Parliament said it was “regrettable” that the response to the attack was slow, they said the European Union “should also make it a priority to address the persecution of Christians”.

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During the Garissa attack, most of the students killed were those who professed the Christian faith and the terrorists said they were avenging the “continual persecution” of Muslims in East Africa.

On Thursday, the European Parliament rejected the terrorists’ claim that they were defending Islam.

Instead, the members voted to “condemn and reject misinterpretations of Islam designed to legitimise the extermination of Christians”.

The European legislators called on Muslim leaders to join the fight against terrorism, but called on the Kenyan government “not to draw parallels between Muslims and Al-Shabaab and instead to target only the perpetrators, not wider ethnic and faith communities”.

The parliament, which has substantial legislative and budgetary powers, can set, together with the European Council, the direction of major projects the European bloc engages in.

RECEIVE MORE FUNDING

This means that it can amend legislative proposals and contribute on which areas to receive more funding, besides supervising the work of the European Commission and other EU bodies.

The parliament's decision, though, is just a proposal since foreign policy decisions within the EU are made by the Council of Foreign Ministers within the bloc.

For such a decision to be implemented, it means individual member countries of the EU would have to back it.

On Tuesday this week, the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, announced the European Agenda on Security for the years 2015-2020 to support member states' cooperation in tackling security threats and “step up our common efforts in the fight against terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime”.

Though the programme is largely meant to support EU members, its drafters admit the problems, such as counter-radicalisation and terrorism, cybercrime and organised crime, require a trans-border cooperation.

During the voting on Thursday, 34 members abstained, but the members also urged the EU to “pull together a financial contribution” to help ensure peace and stability in the country and the region, in collaboration with regional African blocs such as the African Union.

It is not clear how much the new recommendation will involve, but the EU has been a major financier of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), which has about 22,000 troops fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia and seeking to stabilise Somalia since 2007.

In 2013, the EU announced an additional €124 million for the mission to cover costs such as troop allowances for all Amisom soldiers, police and civilian components of the mission, among others.