|Qaran NewsJul 23, 2010 at 06:18 PM|
Former Kenyan minister, Mukhisa Kituyi
Text of commentary entitled “Need to re-think our policy towards Somalia” by Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, former Kenyan minister published by Kenyan privately-owned newspaper Daily Nation website on 18 July; subheading as published
In the recent past, two events have occurred in lands far apart which force Kenya to re-think its policy towards Somalia.
First, the people of Somaliland, the self-declared autonomous region formerly called British Somaliland, held a very credible election last month which was won by the opposition.
Second, came the traumatic bombings that killed and maimed hundreds of people in Kampala with the Somali group Al-Shabab rushing to claim responsibility.
These two events are bound by the reality of the failed state in Somalia and even worse the failed response by the international community to the shame that is Somalia today.
Kenya must read the line and make a firm stand in the national interest.
At independence in 1960, British Somaliland voluntarily joined the Republic of Somalia in the hope of peace and development.
When all they got was the brutality of the Siad Barre regime, they declared independence in 1991.
The response was painful and remains enshrined in the mass graves of Malko-Durduro near Hargeysa.
They picked up the pieces and, while the rest of Somalia descended into chaos, the people of Somaliland have sustained dialogue in modelling a democratic system balancing between clan elders and elected chambers of parliament.
Visiting Select Committees from the House of Commons (2004) and the Kenya National Assembly (2006) have applauded the progress made.
Today Somaliland has fashioned an effective administration regularly collecting due taxes, arresting and trying militants bent on disrupting the peace, patrolling the Gulf of Eden to keep pirates off its shores, and operating efficient air and sea port facilities at Berbera.
Despite their best efforts, the people of Somaliland remain constricted because the world has refused to recognize their statehood.
Arguments about sanctity of independence boundaries run hollow in the face of cases like Ethiopia-Eritrea and failed federations like Senegambia.
The sick state of Somalia requires no further pretence at sanctity.
More crucially, incremental solutions to the mess that is Somalia require solidarity with successful Somali peace initiatives.
There is none better than Somaliland.
Kenya should lead other regional players in recognizing and strengthening the Republic of Somaliland as a frontline counter to the violence spewing out of Somalia.
This is the least we can do for a country that gave us the Isaq immigrants of the post World War II that played a key role in the spread of African entrepreneurship in the hinterland of pre-independence Kenya.
In the wake of the Kampala bombings, President Museveni has vowed strong response in Somalia.
It is important to see Uganda`s predicament in its context.
President Museveni committed Ugandan soldiers to the peace initiative of IGAD.
Since then, three major things have emerged which require a total re-think of the Africa Union and IGAD approach to Somalia.
First there is no peace to keep in Somalia and the AMISOM forces are pretending to offer security to an interim government that is permanently on life support.
The idea of a green house for the transitional government to grow before being let out to pasture has failed as the government in Mogadishu remains a cacophony of foreigners of Somali origin who fly in from Nairobi, Australia, Canada and Scandinavia for cabinet meetings and fly back home.
If government is wilting in the green house, when will it grow capacity to govern without Burundi and Ugandan soldiers?
Secondly, the alternative to the TFG in Mogadishu left on its own remains absurd and disruptive.
Al-Shabab wants us to appreciate it on the basis of its ability to spread pain and shock, and its recent declaration of a fatwa on democracy.
The third thing is the recent coming into force of the Common Market for East Africa.
This has entailed a commitment by the member countries to grow the protocols on foreign and defence cooperation into unified policy on regional security and foreign relations.
Somalia accords them the earliest opportunity to think and act together.
This is the time for Kenya and the rest of East Africa to tell Uganda “you shall not walk alone”.
The strategic interests of East Africa are tied to secure maritime trade off the shores of Somalia.
Illicit trade in small arms and the threat of terrorist acts can be better dealt with in Somalia than at our porous borders.
Firm decisions founded on clear measurable and achievable goals must inform the way forward as we join our brothers in Uganda in mourning the innocent lives that have been lost so meaninglessly.