By Richard Miriti
Kenya’s role in Africa should not be underestimated, since one party State Kenya has remained a force to be reckoned with in Africa. Moi through his well-articulated leadership had many enemies as well as friends in same measure. Moi was pro West and had support from United States for standing with the West in era of cold war. It was during Moi era that Nairobi mooted the birth of democratic Somalia and Southern Sudan. In recent years, Kenya has grown more popular outside the East Africa States. Kenya’s popularity has come with equal benefits through the leadership of Kenyatta. Somali’s UN backed government operated from Nairobi before eventually moving to Mogadishu. Kenya babied Somalia from the word go and it remains committed to see a peaceful neighbor for many years to come.
It is against this backdrop that I argue Kenyatta government can moot recognition of self-declared Somali-land. Kenyatta has a respected voice in African Union as well as the entire world. Somali-land, against all odds, declared its independence in 1991 after the fall of Said Barre. This self-determined breakaway State is not imposed by any major power or global elites, it merely followed through the status it had on June 26, 1960, after receiving independence from British colonial rule. It should be understood that Somaliland was recognized by the United Nations, United States and 35 other countries as an independent State until it voluntarily joined former UN Trust territory of Somalia on July 1, 1960. Somaliland is a unique self-created democracy that has held general elections, where the losers have accepted defeat and instead of fighting have formed a strong nation that has a strong stand against radicalization. It is time for the world to invest in this nation.
Kenya, in the efforts of bringing sanity in East Africa deployed troops in Somalia through a swift operation code named Linda nchi (Protect the Nation) that saw the capture of Kismayu in a well thought and uniquely planned war that saw Kenya make mark militarily for the first time in the history of the world. Kenya through African Union should push the agenda of self-rule in Somaliland. Kenya has nothing to lose in this pursuit because at the moment Kenya spends millions of dollars in war that continues to radicalize Kenyan youth. UN backed Somalia government has a long way to go but the best available solution now is supporting any breakaway region that guarantees transparency, democracy and rule of law.
Kenya can carefully work through a strategy of withdrawing troops from Somalia and deploy a residual force to train Somali-land troops, Kenya will have achieved what no African nation has achieved. Kenya besides being the first African nation to have a forward base in a foreign land will also advance its economic interest in establishing new markets for Kenyan products as well as export Kenyans workers with diverse skills and human resource. It should be understood Kenya helped Namibia gain its footing in 80’s, the same can be said of Mozambique, Liberia and war stricken Yugoslavia.
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Somali-land desire to live as an independent State was as a result of failed clannism politics that seems to tear Somalia apart. It is important to note that many countries have emerged from failed federation like the grand Federation of Somalia formed by Italian and British protectorate. Other countries that have formed breakaway countries that were later recognized are the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, Gambia, East Timor and Eritrea.
Kenya’s voice in Africa is critical and its leadership is equally undeniably top notch. It should be known that everything Kenya nurtures through the ages has turned out to be great. Let Kenya deploy its military force for training purposes in Somaliland, while there, Kenyan navy can continue to open maritime commerce while flying Kenyan flag high and in a peaceful way. While in Somaliland, KDF can continue to protect Kenya homeland by destroying and disrupting terrorist activities directed towards Kenya from foreign lands. Like any other great nations, Kenya can have foreign based troops that can answer the call moment’s notice when it is most needed.
Source: The Standard