Somalia has now denied opposing funding for Kenya’s navy to fight Al-Shabaab.
Somalia Ambassador to Kenya Mr Mohamed Nur on Sunday clarified that his country only thought it would be more expensive to fund a navy and instead proposed for the building of its equivalent called the Somali Coast Guard.
“We prefers to get help in building our Coast Guard which would be less costly and more effective for the long term security of Somalia and the wider region,” he said.
On Thursday, the Nation learnt that Somalia Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Fawzia Adam had opposed to the Security Council for the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom) to be funded for a maritime component.
Kenya is the only Amisom forces contributing country deploying naval forces in Somali waters and has long sought UN approval of about $10 million (Sh870m) in funding for an Amisom maritime force.
But while Ms Adam acknowledged the importance of such a move, she was adamant it would not be a long-term solution for Somalia’s security challenges because there was no “compelling reason to take the campaign against Al-Shabaab to sea.”
“Piracy, human trafficking and smuggling are important challenges,” she added, “but are not linked to the mandate of Amisom.”
Ms Adam reiterated “our strong opposition to the maritime forces to be authorised for Amisom.”
However, Mr Nur told the Nation the statement had been misunderstood to mean total opposition to the funding of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) naval wing.
“The federal government of the Republic of Somalia is not against any support to the Kenyan Navy, and Kenyan government has right to determine what kind of assistance they want for their forces,” he said.
“The Deputy Prime Minister argued that adding a new maritime component to the African Union Military mission in Somalia (Amisom) is costly and takes time to establish.”
Kenyan envoy at the UN Macharia Kamau had voiced his disappointment to Somalia’s stand saying a naval force is needed to “address the movement of Shabaab elements as well as their supplies.”
Somalia itself, Mr Kamau added, does not have the capacity to control these elements.
Earlier, UN Secretary General had told the Council to “give serious consideration to the African Union request for an Amisom maritime component.”
Amisom’s mandate in Somalia is set to expire on March 7 and the Kenyan government had earlier requested the Council to extend it to allow for Somalia to stabilise.
But while Somalia admits it is still fragile, it opposes a strong naval presence arguing it would make the country too dependent on foreign security support at the expense of growing its own agencies.
If the Council does not extend it, it would mean Somalia would have to grapple with its fledgling security agencies against a notorious Al-Shabaab.