Kenya and the United States on Wednesday called for more efforts to stabilize Somalia and South Sudan, saying regional stability is crucial for economic development.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenya and Thomas Waldhauser, commander of the U.S.-Africa Command (Africom), renewed their commitment to peace in the two countries.
Kenyatta, who held talks with Waldhauser, said political turmoil in South Sudan has been made worse by unwarranted fear and mistrust between supporters of President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.
“We shall give it everything we can. But it is not going to be easy,” Kenyatta said in reference to South Sudan, according to a statement issued after the meeting in Nairobi.
The Kenyan leader said Kenya is firmly committed to the cause of finding peace in Somalia, an aspiration that has in the past been negated by lack of adequate capacity, and proper military commands.
Kenyatta said there is need to make both South Sudanese President Kiir and rebel leader Machar to truly appreciate the benefits of working together, adding that regional countries are committed to keeping pressure on the two leaders to work together for the benefit of the people of South Sudan.
Kenyatta said Somalia faces further challenges of mistrust and internal politics between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and regional governments.
“The deteriorating relationships between the TFG and the regional governments are of major concern to us,” he said, adding that the conflict is a major security threat to Kenya and the region at large.
He called for structures that will enable the TFG to work with the regional governments, urging its leadership to refocus its attention and energies into addressing issues that cause national divisions and avoid being drawn into partisan distractions.
Waldhauser, for his part, underscored the need for Somalia to strengthen its leadership structures, adding that the instability is partly due to indirect interference from certain Gulf countries, according to the statement.
“We are ready to continue assisting the country so long as the federal government is willing to accept our support,” Waldhauser said.
He called for neutrality from Gulf countries.
“The differences and clashes in these Arabian countries are playing out in Somalia. We call for their neutrality,” Waldhauser said.
Relations between Somalia and the United Arab Emirates have been strained since mid-2017, when Mogadishu defied UAE and Saudi pressure to cut ties with Qatar following a diplomatic dispute between the Gulf neighbors.