ADDIS ABABA — Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed has expressed concern about Kenyan peacekeepers in the Somali port city of Kismayo, as the government seeks to regain control of the region. The Somali president addressed the issue at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.
Speaking on the sidelines of the summit Sunday, Hassan said his government is in discussions with the African Union after peacekeepers from Kenya allegedly declined to provide security for a group of ministers visiting Kismayo earlier this month.
“For us we have no complaint against Kenya, but part of the AMISOM contingent on the ground have misbehaved and they operated outside their mandate," he said.
Kenyan troops who helped to liberate Kismayo from al-Shabab militants last year have since integrated into the AU peacekeeping force known as AMISOM.
Despite the grievance, Hassan said he has regional support for his government’s efforts to re-establish its authority in Somalia, as the country recovers from two decades of civil war.
He praised the eastern African organization known as IGAD, which includes Kenya, for providing technical assistance in state-building initiatives.
“IGAD has clearly indicated its role as a supportive to the Somali government, and we are very much satisfied with that position of IGAD," he said.
In particular, the regional organization is trying to help the Somali government sort out a political crisis in the Jubaland region of Somalia, which includes the port city of Kismayo.
Community leaders, militia groups and other stakeholders have independently arranged to create an independent state in the region, and selected former militia leader Ahmed Madobe, who worked closely with the Kenyan military, as the region's president.
“There is a group in Kismayo who make unilateral decisions by their own, they are Somalis of course, they have views, we respect their views as they see it, but one thing that is very important in Somalia, today, there is only the federal Somali government, which is wholly owned by the Somali people," said Hassan.
President Hassan also said that these groups in Somalia were getting “certain signals” and had been “wrongly lead” to believe they could establish their own state.
Hassan said his government has a “very clear plan” for rebuilding the country by establishing interim administrations in the regions to clear the way for eventual statehood.
He said the country’s first priority is to provide security, noting that while al-Shabab has been mostly defeated, there are still areas of the country under the group’s control.