Published On: Mon, Oct 10th, 2016

Kenya: Debate rises over KDF mission in Somalia

As the Kenya Defence Forces marks five years in Somalia, experts are still divided over whether Kenya should withdraw its forces.

According to Dr Ochieng’ Kamudhayi, a security and conflict expert, the military has no choice but to leave Somalia.

“We have had several windows for withdrawal. One window would have been after the El Adde attack though that would have looked bad on Kenya as it would have been seen as giving in to the terrorists. “But right now they have to find a way to exit,” Dr Kamudhayi told Sunday Nation.

According to the expert, there are two options: the first is to use the maritime boundary case before the International Court of Justice in which Somalia wants the maritime boundary with Kenya redrawn as a pretext for a withdrawal.

The second is to shift the bases the soldiers occupy and use that to quietly withdraw.

“It seems we never had an exit strategy. Perhaps they thought they would just go into Somalia and vanquish the Al-Shabaab easily then come back,” he said.

Yet another security expert, Mr Simiyu Werunga, takes a different view and argues that there are a number of considerations that Kenya has to make before withdrawing.

“From the moment Kenya re-hatted to Amisom, they lost that opportunity to unilaterally make decisions without reference to the African Union, the United Nations and regional neighbours,” said Mr Werunga.

A unilateral decision to withdraw, according to Mr Werunga, would have geopolitical implications.

“If Kenya withdraws, that will have a serious challenge for it to project its power and leadership in the region at a time there is a lot of competition with our neighbours. It can be seen as a sign of cowardice before the enemy is defeated. Even the political opposition in the country knows that,” he said.

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