Somali Prez opposes Kenyan military intervention

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 11:59

Mogadishu: Somalia`s president said that he
opposed Kenya`s week-old military assault against Islamists in
the south of his country, as deadly grenade attacks in Nairobi
raised fears the rebels were making good on their pledge to
retaliate.
While the Islamists had already threatened revenge
attacks, the public opposition of Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed further raised the stakes over the controversial
cross-border incursion.

"Somalia`s government and its people will not allow
forces entering its soil without prior agreement," Sharif told
reporters in Mogadishu yesterday. "There is only one thing we
know about the Kenyan forces, and that is their offer of
training to the national army of Somalia."

Kenya`s unprecedented military incursion eight days ago,
launched after several foreigners were abducted on its soil
and taken across the border, stunned the region. Its troops
and tanks have pushed some 100 kilometres into southern
Somalia, areas controlled by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab.

Sharif`s statement appeared to contradict an agreement
signed last week by the Kenyan and Somali defence ministers to
"cooperate in undertaking security and military operations."

The agreement, inked in Mogadishu, limits Kenyan
operations to Somalia`s Lower Juba region.
"We have asked neighbouring countries to train our forces
with the aim to participate in the liberation and peacemaking
effort that is going on in the country," Sharif said.

"But there are small issues we have discussed with Kenya
which we see as unfair," he added, without elaborating.

Sharif`s weak Western-backed government survives in
Mogadishu under the protection of more than 9,000 African
Union troops, who have spent four years battling the Shebab`s
military drive to topple his administration.

His government controls only the war-ravaged capital,
while the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM), with
troops from Uganda and Burundi, continues to fight bloody
battles on Mogadishu`s outskirts.

"AMISOM is in Somalia with an AU mandate and the consent
of Somalia`s government," Sharif said. "There is collaboration
with Kenya which is to assist Somalia`s national army, so that
our forces can fulfil their duties."

Kenya accuses the Shebab of attacks on its territory and
a string of recent kidnappings of foreigners, charges the
extremist militants reject.

The Shebab have vowed to launch reprisal raids against
Kenya, prompting Nairobi to issue security warnings and
announcing it has boosted protection around vulnerable sites.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 11:59

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