Post link 07 August 2014, 22:41
Barely a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed concern that the world has abandoned Kenya in its fight against terrorism, US President Barack Obama has announced far reaching measures to support Kenya and other African countries tackle terrorism. Obama on Wednesday asked Congress to create a new Sh 435 billion (US$5 billion) counter-terrorism partnerships fund to help build the capacity of African countries to respond effectively to terror threats.
If approved, the fund would allow the US to provide additional training, equipment, and operational support for partner states in the fight against Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda in Maghreb, Boko Haram and others. “It would also support targeted efforts to address the underlying conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, including by supporting partner efforts to combat terrorist safe havens,” said White House in a statement.
More immediately, however, Obama announced the US has committed a Sh 5.6 billion kitty (US$965 million) to a new initiative to strengthen the abilities of law enforcement and justice authorities in six African nations to combat transnational threats like drug trafficking and extremist groups like Al Qaeda, Alshabaab and Boko Haram.
The new security measures also included a pledge of Sh 9.5 billion ($110 million) a year over the next three to five years to help African soldiers rapidly deploy peacekeeping troops to conflicts. That effort will initially involve Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, which will commit troops to a stand-by force ready to assist United Nations and African Union missions.
“We’re launching a new security governance initiative to help our African countries continue to build strong, professional security forces to provide for their own security,” he said. Obama said the rising tide of Islamic extremism on the continent – and the damage this is inflicting on states such as Kenya and Nigeria, which have been at the forefront of a continental economic boom – is also a priority concern for Washington.
Obama’s announcement will be seen as a huge boost for Kenya, which from the outset said it would use the US-Africa Leaders Summit to seek security partnership with the US. Earlier, in an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest on the sidelines of the Summit, President Uhuru, had said Kenya felt abandoned by the international community in its fight against terrorism.
“We do feel the world isn’t doing enough to support us in confronting the challenges we have,” he said. He singled out travel advisories by the West against Kenya, saying they only served to embolden terrorists. “…We should actually face up to the enemy, invest more, be more in Kenya,” said Uhuru.
State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu had disclosed ahead of the Summit that President Uhuru would exploit the three day summit to forge stronger partnerships between the US and Kenya on trade and economy but also on security particularly in curbing terrorism in the region.

By Brian Ngugi and Agencies @brian_ngugi

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