President Kenyatta told the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) meeting in Addis Ababa on Saturday evening that one of the measures was the establishment of a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), a multi-agency mechanism that ensures Kenya’s counter-terrorism policies are implemented.
“Other measures include rehabilitation programmes and initiatives that enhance de-radicalisation processes through amnesty for all returnees from Somalia who wish to abandon criminal affiliations to rejoin the society,” President Kenyatta said.
Regionally, the President said Kenya alongside Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Burundi have contributed to peace, security and stabilization in Somalia through the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
“Through these efforts, we have recovered significant territories that were previously under the command of Al Shabaab,” President Kenyatta said.
“We have also facilitated humanitarian relief by securing the main supply routes to enable safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to most of the affected populations,” the President added.
But despite the gains made in the fight against terrorism, President Kenyatta urged African countries to step up their support to the continental Peace and Security Council to ensure continuous progress in countering terrorism and violent extremism.
He said Africa must stand ready to provide the required backing be it administrative, military or financial to enable the PSC to carryout out its mandate effectively.
“The Kenya Government continues to appeal to our brothers and sisters on the continent to also collectively address the root cause and development of violent extremism in the different regions in Africa,” President Kenyatta told leaders who attended the Peace and Security Council meeting.
“We must enhance levels of cooperation and collaboration with both regional and international partners through capacity building initiatives in emerging counter-violent extremism concepts and practices,” the President said.
He said the unfortunate timing of the AMISOM troop withdrawal while the level of preparedness of the Somali National forces to take over the security responsibility of their country was still low was a major challenge.
“Indeed, I would like to call on the UN and the AU to ensure a practical and realistic AMISOM exit timelines that should be subjected to regular reviews,” the President said.
President Kenyatta said to prevent the existence of vulnerable groups that could expose Somalia and Kenya to terrorist attacks, there was dire need for policy makers and leaders to focus on resolving conflicts by addressing the root causes to cut out emerging threats.
“Effective counter-terrorism policy interventions must focus on protecting and empowering the communities, investing in peace building, reconciliation and re-construction processes that include the people exposed to terrorism and the larger societies,” President Kenyatta said.
The President emphasized that the interventions should also encourage partnerships between locals and security forces as well as support equitable access to public service.
President Kenyatta noted that while a lot of achievement has been made in the fight against terrorism, more concerted efforts were required to contain the menace.
He said the world must stop directing all focus to the return of radicalised foreign fighters in the Western nations while paying less attention to those who may return to areas with terrorist cells in Africa.
“On return to Africa, those foreign fighters then link up with other extremist armed groups across our continent which has affiliation to either Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State,” President Kenyatta said.
Addressing the meeting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, AU Peace and Security Council Chair who is also Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki called for a comprehensive approach to combat terrorism in Africa.
The leaders said the transnational nature of terrorism could best be fought through a global approach.
President El-Sisi said a comprehensive approach to curb terrorism remained a priority for Africa if the scourge was to be eliminated.
“We need to bring on board all efforts to combat the terrorism threat globally. We need to come together to fight terrorism because it affects peace, security and development,” President El-Sisi.
UN Secretary-General Guterres welcomed the African leaders’ efforts to fight terrorism, expressing the need to build cooperation between AU and UN to ensure a sustained and coordinated approach to combat the vice.
“Nothing justifies terrorism. No cause or grievance can ever excuse the indiscriminate target of civilians, the destruction of lives and livehoods, and the creation of panic,” Mr Guterres said.
Mr Guterres said the UN stood ready to support Africa in the war against terrorism and urged the international community to play its part as well.