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The East African : May 5th 2014
10 CONFLICT IN THE REGION President Uhuru’s dilemma in dealing with Somalia and South Sudan crises Kenya has become vulne≥able to instability in the ≥egion A JOINT REPORT The EastAfrican K enya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta is facing a di- lemma in dealing with two key neighbours — South Sudan and Somalia. After barely a year in office, Kenya’s political leaders are now realising that their country’s economic power cannot always translate into a foreign policy clout. Kenya and Somalia are at loggerheads over how to govern southern Somalia, currently controlled by Kenyan troops belatedly brought under the aegis of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom). The Kenyan government has supported an initiative to set up an interim Jubbaland administration whose links with Mogadishu will be tenuous at best. Diplomatic sources said that Kenya is planning to open consular offices in Jubbaland and Hargeisa in the self-declared independent Somaliland, but Mogadishu is concerned that Nairobi is planting a seed of self-determination for other regions that could cut links with Mogadishu. The EastAfrican has learnt that the government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has been particularly upset by the “Usalama Watch” operation in Kenya aimed at kicking out illegal aliens in the country, which has been seen as targeting Somali nationals. There are also elements within President Mohamud’s government that have never been comfortable with the Kenya Defence Forces’ entry into Somalia in October 2011 and are wary of Kenya’s increased influence in the affairs of Somalia. However, former Somalia minister Abdirahman Omar Osman, who has just left his President Kenyatta on Friday hosted three Heads of State in Nairobi at the launch of the Kenya National Electronic Single Window System. Picture: PSCU job as the spokesperson of the presidency, argued that the Federal Government of Somalia fully supports the KDF military operations in Somalia. Two weeks ago, a politi- cal consul at the Somali embassy in Kenya, Siyad Mohamud Shire, was arrested in a Nairobi suburb during a police swoops under “Usalama Watch,” forcing Mogadishu to recall its ambassador to Kenya, Mohamed Ali Nur, for consultation. But despite his “personal It is apparent that Kenya has little leverage over South Sudan’s leaders, many of whom have assets in Kenya. challenges” as a leader who faces charges at the International Criminal Court, President Kenyatta seems determined to nudge his country towards a more robust role in regional and African affairs, his engagement with the East (read China) rather than the country’s traditional Western allies being his boldest move so far. President Kenyatta didn’t also shy away from kicking up his own diplomatic dust when he spearheaded what is popularly known as the Coalition of the Willing, with Uganda and Rwanda, leaving out Tanzania, which is a member of the East African Community (EAC). Under President Kenyatta’s watch, the country has not only become more vulnerable to terrorist attacks from Somalia, SANCTIONS The US and UN have threatened to bring sanctions against militants on both sides of the fighting — including, President Kiir and Dr Machar. A confidential dossier prepared by Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January this year, expressed concern that Sudan, but the breakdown of law and order in neighbouring South Sudan is also posing serious threats to the country’s interests. President Kenyatta, who is also the chairman of the EAC and the Rapporteur of Inter Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), has been working closely with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to mediate in the South Sudan conflict. Last week in Arusha, President Kenyatta vowed not to allow genocide to take place in South Sudan, where President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar have plunged their country into a civil war that threatens to tear it apart with serious regional consequences. But President Kenyatta’s re- gional assertiveness is hampered by the historical unreadiness of the country’s army to respond to an out-of-the-blue war next door. By contrast, last Decem- Uganda and Rwanda could all get entangled in the conflict in South Sudan. The brief warns that the South Sudan conflict is getting “internationalised” and likely to draw in more countries intervening in support of either of the parties. ber Uganda swiftly sent troops to South Sudan to strengthen President Kiir’s hand and thus averted a complete takeover by his rival Dr Machar. Kampala, despite objections from Ethiopia and powerful Western countries, has so far succeeded in tilting the balance of power in Kiir’s favour, and is more influential in South Sudanese affairs than Nairobi. That is a major blow to Kenya, which had played a lead role in negotiating the deal that led to the birth of South Sudan. Although Kenya’s parliament recently approved a decision to send hundreds of additional troops to South Sudan, that move has come too late. It is apparent that Kenya has little leverage over South Sudan’s leaders, many of whom have assets in Kenya. By Malkhadir Muhumed, Fred Oluoch, Rashid Abdi and Trevor Analo The EastAfrican NEWS MAY 3-9,2014 EA in a fix on Juba assets f≥eeze TURN FROM PAGE 9 and warned spoilers they could face sanctions if they obstructed efforts to bring about peace and end the bloodshed. The call, which came just two days after another round of peace talks opened in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, is part of a concerted international effort, led by Igad, to put pressure on the negotiators to agree a truce and a political roadmap to resolve the conflict in South Sudan. See Q&A with EU’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Alex Rondos, on page 9. Last month, President Obama issued an executive order allowing the use of property and asset seizures and immigration and visa bans against government or rebel officials who target UN peacekeepers, threaten peace negotiations in Addis Ababa or abuse human rights. However, President Kiir has maintained that the threat to impose sanctions will undermine efforts to resolve the conflict and accused the US of paying lip service to efforts to end the conflict in South Sudan. The EU has already threatened South Sudan with sanctions, while the UN Security Council has also threatened sanctions and is already looking into those behind human-rights abuses and war crimes. It is not clear whether China - - which is part of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- will support the sanctions given its huge investment in the South Sudan oil sector. But so far, there have been no major divisions among the permanent members on the urgent need to stop the killings and restore order in South Sudan. Mr Kerry emphasised that the US is prepared to move unilaterally, if necessary, to sanction South Sudanese figures. The alarm has also been sound- ed in response to revelations by UN human rights chief Navi Pillay last week that a total of 9,000 children are being used in the government army and in rebel ranks. By Fred Oluoch, Kevin Kelley and Rashid Abdi. See related stories on pages 26, 27 and 33.
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