US, UK raise security concerns over security in Somalia’s Gedo

Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

The United States of America and the United Kingdom have called on Somalia to exercise restraint and reduce the presence of security forces in Gedo.

In a joint statement with IGAD and AMISOM, the two countries expressed grave concern at the build-up of security forces in the Gedo region of Jubaland, Somalia and clashes in the vicinity of Belet Hawo on 2 March that has resulted in the displacement of civilians and casualties.

“We urgently call upon all actors to exercise restraint, to reduce the presence of security forces in Gedo, and to avoid any actions that could spark violence.   We note the importance of stability and good cooperation among Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in their common border area where they have shared security interests,” the statement said.

The two countries further welcomed the communication between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and President Uhuru Kenyatta last week.

“We encourage the leaders to continue to deescalate tensions, to cooperate on border security, and to form a joint committee to address issues of diplomacy and trade as they agreed,” the statement read in part.

According to US and UK, the engagement between the leaders as a necessary step, and underscores the importance of continued direct communication between Somalia and Kenya.

They said it was commendable for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for the outreach and providing good offices for the continuation of this dialogue until lasting solutions are in place.

“For the long-term stability and security of the border region and of Jubaland, the partners urge cooperation and dialogue between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and Jubaland authorities in order to advance the fight against al-Shabaab.

They call for any individuals accused of crimes or human rights violations to be arrested and subject to due process in accordance with the rule of law,” the statement read.

The statement comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday sent senior state officers to Somalia in the latest move signaling a climb-down in tensions between the two countries.

The team of security chiefs led by the Interior CS Fred Matiang’i met Uhuru’s Somali counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo amid efforts to iron out issues over an alleged border intrusion.

The move came amid tension between the two countries on its border points in Mandera.

Last week the Somalia National Army battled Jubaland forces in Bula Hawa near Mandera County.

The fighting by forces traditionally united against Al-Shabaab militants saw Kenya and Somalia accuse each other of territorial integrity violations.