Are the KDF fit for peacekeeping in Somalia?
Harar24′s Editorial Team
Recently we saw the suspension of 24 Ugandan officers who were part of the AMISOM for selling items intended for troops on the “black market”. Last July, the Daily Monitor reported that corruption amongst Ugandan troops was so bad to the extent they were only served one meal a day, out of allegations that food and other items were being stolen and sold by commanders and officers. In fact the word that has been passing around among average Somalis and still is: “In need of something? Get it from AMISOM!” Therefore, it should not come as a surprise, that these items will reach Al-Shabaab or may have even reached them; it’s a known rule that whatever reaches the average “Abdi” also reaches Al-Shabaab.
However more recently, accusations were leveled at Kenyan soldiers for looting inside the Westgate mall during the attack. Footage recorded by security cameras in the mall allegedly show Kenyan soldiers looting several items ranging from mobile phones, cash and other unidentified items in bags. Kenyan government officials and KDF officials denied earlier claims that soldiers participated in looting. Ndungu Githinji, chairman of Defence and Foreign relations, went as far as even saying: “Not all Kenyans are as forthright as you may like to believe and some will use the cover of looting to seek compensation from insurance firms”.
Now we are witnessing a drastic move from denial to applying a gag on journalists who are reporting on the looting of Kenyan soldiers during the Westgate attack. Yesterday, inspector general of police, David Kimaiyo announced that certain journalists would be arrested and prosecuted because they reported on the looting of the Kenyan soldiers, or in his own words for “provoking propaganda” and inciting Kenyans against the authorities”.
If the claims of looting are false, why the need to suppress journalists, or dare I say threaten, them from reporting freely on the case? Kenyan journalists Mohamed Ali and Allan Namu could be arrested and prosecuted because of this.
Without doubt, the fallacy of Kenyan soldiers only taking “some bottles of water from Nakumatt store to quench their thirst” or “only carrying water in bags” is one bound to be dispelled, just as the fallacy of Lewthwaite’s presence was dispelled.
The behavior of the soldiers who are part of the AMISOM many a times provokes the question, are the AMISOM troops fit & disciplined for the peace keeping mission in Somalia? If this is the behavior of Kenyan soldiers caught on the watchful eye of security cameras, one has every right to wonder what Kenyan soldiers may have committed in Somalia, in the absence of security cameras. On July 15 2013, many Somali-Americams protested in front of the Kenyan embassy in the US for what they said were “atrocities committed” by Kenyan forces in Somalia. (More of that can be read here & here)
Somalis who we spoke to, in Kismayo, Afmadow and other cities in the Jubba region voiced their concern over the presence of Kenyan Defense forces in Somalia. “I’ve always been wary of the presence of Kenyan soldiers” said a Kismayo resident to us, “but after what I am hearing in the media in regards to the Westgate looting, I’m even more worried. If they did this in their country, then what about my country?”.
In light of the Westgate attack, president Kenyata exclaimed that Somalia should “put their house in order”. Now, as it is becoming clearer that Kenyan soldiers may have been involved in looting at the Westgate mall, it maybe high time that Kenya “puts their own house in order”.