Somalia: transitional government says it opposeses Kenyan role

Confusion surrounds the relationship between the Kenyan and Somali transitional governments folloing Kenya’s incursion deep into southern Somalia. 

Despite clear indications during the last week that Somali government forces and some militias were fighting alongside the Kenyans against the al-Shabab movement, the Somali President has now said his government is opposed to the Kenyan role.

So it remains unclear just what the situation is – did Kenya consult the government in Mogadishu or not before the incursion; did Mogadishu support it at first and then get cold feet; or is the Somali statement just a way of saving face for the weak transitional government?

Internationally there has been little criticism of Kenya and French naval forces are said to be shelling areas near Kismayo to weaken al-Shabab as Kenyan forces push on for the coast.  Keith Somerville

See the full report by the BBC on the Somali position.

BBC  Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif  Ahmed has said his transitional government is opposed to Kenya’s military incursion into Somalia.

Just over a week ago Kenya sent soldiers over its border into Somalia to
pursue militants from the Islamist al-Shabab group .

It blames the insurgents for a spate of recent kidnappings near the border,
which al-Shabab denies.

Nairobi said the deployment was done with the Somali authorities’
approval.

For more than two years, President Ahmed’s weak UN-backed interim government
has been battling al-Shabab, an al Qaeda-linked group which controls much of
south and central Somalia.

His government relies on a 9,000-strong Africa Union force for its security
in the capital, Mogadishu.

Speaking to journalists at the scene of recent fighting in Mogadishu, Mr
Ahmed said Kenyan support in terms of training and logistics was welcome but his government and the people of Somalia were opposed to the presence of the Kenyan army.

The BBC’s East Africa correspondent, Will Ross, says his comments put the
Kenyan government in a very difficult position.

map

It is possible that the Somali authorities have spoken out because they are
opposed to the idea of Kenya helping to establish a semi-autonomous region in
Somalia known as Jubaland, he says.

This is seen by some as the main aim of the Kenyan government’s military
incursion, our correspondent says.

Last week, a Somali general told the BBC his troops were working with Kenyan
forces advancing from the border towards the port city of Kismayo.

On Sunday there were aerial bombardments on Kismayo, an economic stronghold
of al-Shabab.

The Kenyan army told the BBC that a military base belonging to al-Shabab was
hit, but the militants said no damage had been caused.

Kenyan army spokesman Maj Emmanuel Chirchir would not confirm whether Kenyan
or other allied forces had carried out the raid.

He told AP news agency that the French navy had bombed the town of Kuda along
the coast from Kismayo on Saturday night.

Last week, al-Shabab lost control of the coastal town of Ras Kamboni after
attacks by the Kenyan navy and a local militia.

The French authorities said they had learnt last week that a Frenchwoman
kidnapped from Kenya by Somali gunmen earlier in the month had died.

Other foreigners being held in Somalia include a British woman abducted from
a coastal resort and a Kenyan driver and two Spanish aid workers seized from the
Dadaab refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border.

Al-Shabab has threatened reprisal attacks in Kenya if the troops do not
leave. Kenya’s police chief says a grenade attack overnight in Nairobi which
injured 12 people in a nightclub could not be linked to the militant
group
.

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