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African Union Ready to Assist Kenya after Terror Attack

  • Peter Clottey

Onlookers observe from an overlooking hill as a plume of black smoke billows over the Westgate Mall, following large explosions and heavy gunfire, in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 23, 2013.

Onlookers observe from an overlooking hill as a plume of black smoke billows over the Westgate Mall, following large explosions and heavy gunfire, in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 23, 2013.

The African Union (AU) is working with its international partners to assist Kenya following the weekend terrorist attack on the East African nation, says Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairman of the African Union Commission.

“We stand with the people of Kenya during this trying moment. We have sent our condolences to the families and we hailed the government of Kenya in the manner in which they’ve handled the crisis,” said Mwencha. “We’ve indicated our resolve to continue to fight terrorism in whatever form it exists. We are also aware that this is a global menace and we need to act together as the international community to fight the scourge.”

Mwencha says the AU is ready to assist Kenya following the attack that has left scores wounded and many dead.

“For now, we wait to see [if] the Kenya authorities give us [an] assessment of the extent of the needs, and the African Union will then respond accordingly,” said Mwencha. “But, we are also encouraged to see that a number of member states have already given their support and willing to assist Kenya.”

Heads of state and government plan to meet in an extraordinary summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on October 13. The leaders are expected to discuss pulling out support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to the trial of Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial is also scheduled to begin in November. The ICC has charged both leaders in playing a key role in Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence.

Some observers say combating terrorism on the continent could also be high on the agenda of the AU summit, following the Westgate Shopping Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi.

Mwencha says terrorism is a global menace which requires international cooperation to combat.

“We can only work together with the international community to share information to fight it, and we are encouraged to see the response of the international community to the Kenya crisis. Several leaders and ordinary citizens have indicated that they stand ready to continue to fight on,” said Mwencha.

The Somali-based hard line Islamic group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the shopping mall attack. The group said the attack was in response to Kenya’s military action in neighboring Somalia. But, Mwencha said the fight against terrorism will not be discontinued in spite of the attack.

“Of course, today its Kenya, tomorrow it would be elsewhere, so we must continue to fight, and that is why the need for international cooperation is absolutely important,” said Mwencha.

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