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Kenya agrees to join AMISOM

Xinhua | Updated: 2011-12-07 10:25

NAIROBI - The Kenyan government on Tuesday approved the African Union's request for Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to join the AU Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as part of the pan African body's strategy to combat Al-Shabaab.

A statement issued in Nairobi after a Cabinet meeting which was chaired by President Mwai Kibaki said the move is subject to Parliamentary approval.

"The Cabinet that met under the chairmanship of President Mwai Kibaki at State House, Nairobi, also approved the re-hatting of the Kenya Defense Forces in Somalia to AMISOM, subject to approval by parliament," the statement said.

The east African nation which launched incursion in Somalia mid October committed to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Heads of States Summit in Addis Ababa in November its willingness to join the 9000-strong AMISOM force.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lindsay Kiptenes after the IGAD summit said that Kenya expressed willingness to bolster the African Union troops on condition that the forces'mandate is changed to reflect the security situation on the ground.

Currently, AMISOM's mandate restricts it to operate only in Mogadishu as a peace-keeping force where it is providing security to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) led by President Sheikh Ahmed Sharif. Uganda and Burundi are the only countries that have contributed troops to the force.

"This has been done at the request of the African Union to enhance a combined strategy for the operation against Al-Shabaab," the statement which was issued on Tuesday said.

Kenya is currently engaged in the fight against the militia group in southern Somalia. Regional analysts say the impending arrival of reinforcements, along with a coalition of clan militias and transitional government troops, is expected to allow the Somali government to gradually expand the territory it holds.

Ethiopian troops pulled out of Somalia in 2009 after staying on the ground for two years to dislodge a coalition of Islamist rulers who had taken control of Mogadishu.

The AMISOM troops, currently numbering 9,000, are expected to receive a boost from Djibouti, whose plan to deploy inside Somalia has constantly been postponed since 2009.    

The statement said the Cabinet also approved the hosting of the Nairobi Summit on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. The meeting will take place early next year.

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